Ei-iE

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Fighting the commercialisation of education

Education is a human right and a public good that can be fully realised only through the provision of free, equitable, inclusive, quality public education. The growing commercialisation and privatisation in and of the sector is the greatest threat to the universal right to education.

Across the world, corporate interests are striving to transform all levels of education, from early childhood to higher education, into yet another market with winners and losers. As private-sector management models are applied to education institutions, employment conditions in the sector are being undermined. As low-fee, low-quality private schools expand rapidly, there is a risk that governments abrogate their responsibility to ensure the right to education for all. Unaccountable corporations have undue influence on education policies and institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend which risks transforming education into a commodity, favouring profit over quality education.

As educators, we put students before profit. In 2015 we launched our Global Response to the Commercialisation and Privatisation of Education. Through this campaign, we work to expose and challenge the policies and practices of governments, intergovernmental organisations and international financial institutions which undermine public education and the rights and status of teachers and education support personnel. We also resist global corporate actors, especially education technology providers, who push the commercialisation and privatisation in and of education.

Our work in this area

  1. Opinion 9 May 2022

    Education and Copyright: obstacles to teaching in the digital age

    Teresa Nobre

    Access to knowledge is an important aspect of the right to education . In order to respond to the needs in the classroom, teachers often complement traditional teaching resources (e.g., textbooks and other curated materials) with a wide spectrum of materials from a variety of sources (e.g., short videos, images,...

    Education and Copyright: obstacles to teaching in the digital age
  2. Opinion 26 April 2022

    Enabling the future of youth research through copyright

    Sean M. Fiil-Flynn

    This year’s World Intellectual Property Day is being dedicated to the theme of youth empowerment . The focus is on recognition of the role of youth “stepping up to innovation challenges, using their energy and ingenuity, their curiosity and creativity to steer a course towards a better future.” Intellectual property...

    Enabling the future of youth research through copyright
  3. Opinion 23 April 2022

    Economically disadvantaged Malawi teachers bear the brunt of IMF wage bill policies

    Dr. Limbani Eliya Nsapato

    Malawi has a long-term relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which drives the country’s macroeconomic policies, often to the detriment of progress in targeted sectors such as education and health. Malawi became a member of the IMF on 19 July 1965 and has had at least 16 arrangements (loans)...

    Economically disadvantaged Malawi teachers bear the brunt of IMF wage bill policies
  4. Opinion 22 April 2022

    The impact of IMF policies on the public service wage bill in Zambia

    Gideon Bulwani

    There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the International Monetary Fund austerity measures have the potential to negatively affect Zambian ability to attain SDG 4. It is a paradox that the global system encourages investment in access to quality education for all, while putting obstacles along the path to the...

    The impact of IMF policies on the public service wage bill in Zambia
  5. Opinion 20 April 2022

    Wage Bill Constraints: Hardship of Teachers in Nepal

    Prabin Kumar Acharya

    In 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) directed the governments of 15 countries, including Nepal, to reduce their public expenditure. This has greatly impacted teachers after the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Wage Bill Constraints: Hardship of Teachers in Nepal
  6. Opinion 20 April 2022

    IMF policies undermine quality education

    Dennis Sinyolo

    Teacher quality, status, and conditions matter. Quality learning depends on quality teaching, delivered by qualified, well-supported, and motivated teachers.

    IMF policies undermine quality education
  7. News 11 April 2022

    Africa: Educators united to resist privatisation and defend quality public education

    Privatisation, the importance of State funding in public education, and campaigns to combat the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education all came under the spotlight at a recent online forum. Organised by Education International’s Africa Region (EIRAF) office, the webinar focused on the need to resist privatisation and defend...

    Africa: Educators united to resist privatisation and defend quality public education
  8. Statements 16 March 2022

    World Bank to exit investment in for-profit school chain Bridge International Academies

    Education International (EI) welcomes the decision from the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to stop investing in the for-profit chain of schools, Bridge International Academies. The IFC had invested more than US$ 10 million in Bridge International Academies operations in Africa and supported the company's...

    World Bank to exit investment in for-profit school chain Bridge International Academies
  9. Research

    Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean

    Steven J. Courtney, Rinnelle Lee-Piggott
    9 February 2022

    This report is an initial mapping of education privatisation trends in the Caribbean region and will form the basis for further analysis and union action. It draws attention to favourable conditions for privatisation across the region, including a chronic underfunding of public education systems.

    Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean
    1. Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean - full research paper
    2. Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean - Summary of findings
  10. Opinion 9 February 2022

    Privatisation Trends in Education in the Caribbean

    Steven J. Courtney, Rinnelle Lee-Piggott

    Privatisation has been a focus of education research for many years, particularly in western liberal democracies. However, the phenomenon is relatively under-researched within the Caribbean region. This matters.

    Privatisation Trends in Education in the Caribbean
  11. Opinion 28 January 2022

    Challenging global tech giants: the critical role of Global labour

    Carmen Ludwig, Edward Webster

    In a recent research paper, Carmen Ludwig and Edward Webster examined the role of global unions to contest the use and abuse of digital technology through transnational activism in two African contexts. Action included work with Education International’s Global Response against the privatisation of education.

    Challenging global tech giants: the critical role of Global labour
  12. Statements 13 December 2021

    Better education financing and regulation of private interests is urgent to ensure equitable, inclusive, and resilient education systems

    Education International responds to the 2021 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report "Non-state actors in education: Who chooses, who loses?"

    The 2021/2022 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) analyses the role and involvement of state and non-state actors in education and in the education sector. The stated aim of the report is to consider non-state actors in education ‘through the lens of equity and inclusion’, which were among the...

    Better education financing and regulation of private interests is urgent to ensure equitable, inclusive, and resilient education systems
  13. News 15 November 2021

    Nepal: Educators reaffirm the need for just and progressive taxation to increase public financing of education

    The need to fund education through public funding and the importance of progressive taxation to increase public resources were at the heart of a recent capacity building workshop on tax justice and education funding in Nepal. The workshop was organised by the Education International Asia-Pacific (EIAP) office for member organisations...

    Nepal: Educators reaffirm the need for just and progressive taxation to increase public financing of education
  14. Opinion 5 August 2021

    The militarisation of schools in Brazil: a threat to the educational process and to democracy.

    Fátima da Silva

    The election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil in 2018, led not only to a process of deregulating the economy, but it also brought with it a new educational agenda for the country. Despite already existing in different ways before his election, the standard bearers of what is known...

    The militarisation of schools in Brazil: a threat to the educational process and to democracy.
  15. News 12 July 2021

    Educators in the Arab countries ready to rebuild education systems despite challenges

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive loss of human life and an unprecedented challenge to public health, education systems and the economy in the Arab region. Education unions remain committed to quality education, advocating for their students and members and rebuilding with equity.

    Educators in the Arab countries ready to rebuild education systems despite challenges
  16. Opinion 23 June 2021

    "Celebrating the value and virtue of public service."

    David Edwards

    United Nations Public Service Day was established by the General Assembly in 2002. It “celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlights the contribution of public service in the development process; recognizes the work of public servants and encourages young people to pursue careers in the...

    "Celebrating the value and virtue of public service."
  17. Opinion 21 June 2021

    “The mutation of cultural species in the digital ecosystem.”

    Omar Rincón

    We are living through a cultural mutation that has driven the digital revolution, as very poetically documented by the writer Alessandro Barrico (2008, 2019), when he speaks of a “barbaric mutation”, which makes us live “amphibiously between two civilisations”. This mutation has meant that in the 20th century, there has...

    “The mutation of cultural species in the digital ecosystem.”
  18. Opinion 31 May 2021

    “Privatised education: the virus exposed by the pandemic.”

    Shelley L. Morse

    As Covid-19 continues to reap havoc and draw the public’s attention, governments across Canada are sharing a privatisation playbook as they use the pandemic as cover to transform publicly funded public education.

    “Privatised education: the virus exposed by the pandemic.”