Public education systems in Pacific plagued by commercial activity, new EI report finds

published 18 October 2019 updated 8 November 2019

“Commercial Activity in Pacific Education”, an Education International report examining the extent of privatisation and commercialisation in education in the region, was launched today at the conference of the Council of Pacific Education.

The scoping study by researchers Anna Hogan, Greg Thompson, Bob Lingard from Queensland University and Mesake Dakuidreketi from the University of the South Pacific, reveals the impact and consequences of education reform on schooling in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Speaking at the Council of Pacific Education (COPE) conference held in Fiji, Govind Singh, COPE General Secretary, underlined that “this research points at many deeper unidentified issues plaguing the Pacific education system, including teacher recruitment, teacher morale, sustainability and financing. The issues raised are very serious – they must not be left here. Today conference participants will discuss next steps, strategising to defend public education from further attack.”

David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International (EI), welcomed the research, stressing: “This research is both significant and highly concerning as it shows the expanding reach of education policies that promote the commercialisation of public education. EI commits to supporting all COPE unions to advocate for quality terms of employment, as it is only through raising the attractiveness of the profession that quality public education for all can be achieved.”

In addition to shedding light on teaching policies driven by corporate logic, the report raises important questions related to the extent of the influence of international organisations and donors in COPE education systems. According to Angelo Gavrielatos, Director of EI’s Global Response to the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education, “this scoping report potentially reveals just the tip of the iceberg… to better understand commercialisation trends in Pacific education it will be necessary to engage in further research, exploring in greater detail the extent and nature of influence of external organisations, donor countries and philanthropists.”

The authors suggest multiple important areas for further research. These will be reviewed by union leaders during this week’s conference, and priorities for action will be determined.

Read the declaration of the Council of Pacific Education.

Download the full report here: https://go.ei-ie.org/GRPacific

Download the summary report here: https://go.ei-ie.org/GRPacificSummary