Education International’s campaign against the increasing privatisation in education received fulsome and passionate support from delegates at its 7th World Congress in Ottawa today (22 July).
On behalf of EI’s Executive Board, President Susan Hopgood proposed the resolution (1.1) on Privatisation and Commercialisation in and of Education, saying that EI needed a global response to the rise of edu-businesses in the education field – the for-profit sector is now worth $5 trillion dollars. “This response will cover privatisation in education from early childhood to university,” she said, adding that privatisation in education is the greatest threat to education as a public good.
Global response mandated
The resolution mandates EI’s Executive Board to launch a global campaign that engages affiliates and allies to respond to the growing trend to outsource to private actors and involve them in education-related activities and services. It also mandates the Board to establish an EI Task Force on Privatisation and Commercialisation of Education.
In seconding the resolution, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said the resolution was in favour of children and the teaching profession but that EI and affiliates must move quickly “to overcome the privateers’ headstart”.
The resolution provoked a spirited response from attendees with contributions from delegates from Canada, the Philippines, Sweden, Norway, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Colombia. They highlighted the negative effects of privatisation, including the use of unqualified teachers, the lack of school places, a reliance on vouchers, and the pay-per-day model that in the South.
Lily Eskelsen García, President of the National Education Association (NEA) in the US, urged delegates to utilise the strength of their numbers when mobilising for local and international campaigns against privatisation. “EI has a membership of 32 million – we are powerful,” she said.
Education International's resolution received support from guest speaker Dr Jordan Naidoo, Director of EFA . “UNESCO is fully committed to education as a human right and the protection of that right as a public good,” he said.
Naidoo also underscored the importance of the work EI and UNESCO do in this field. “With the increasing trend towards privatisation and the myth that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will solve all the challenges of education, the role of EI and UNESCO is more important,” he said.
Education Policy Paper
The Congress also passed an addendum to the Education Policy Paper on the privatisation of education services.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Castro- IEAL