Ei-iE

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 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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."
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.”
  6. Opinion 21 May 2021

    "Virtual education: some things matter"

    Esteban Magnani

    Big tech companies have found data to be an invaluable source of profit. What is data used for? Should schools become a conduit for companies to become even wealthier? How can it be avoided? As part of the series of conferences “Digital culture and education” organized by Education International Latin...

    "Virtual education: some things matter"
  7. Opinion 18 May 2021

    “Commitment to social dialogue in education in the European Union: rhetoric or game-changer?”

    Tore Bernt Sorensen, Emiliano Grimaldi, Tomasz Gajderowicz

    Structures that ensure the meaningful representation of the education workforce in social dialogue with employers are fundamental for effective reform and quality education. Yet, little is known about the relationship between social dialogue, privatisation and trends in education reform in the scientific literature.

    “Commitment to social dialogue in education in the European Union: rhetoric or game-changer?”
  8. News 15 May 2021

    World Education Support Personnel Day: Pandemic, Privatisation and Public Education

    Education International fixed 16 May of every year as a day to recognise Education Support Personnel (ESP). The day focuses on rights and status of these  education workers, has called attention internationally to the essential role of ESP.

    World Education Support Personnel Day: Pandemic, Privatisation and Public Education
  9. Opinion 28 April 2021

    “Investing in education: a must for post-pandemic recovery and SDG progress”, by Dennis Sinyolo

    Dennis Sinyolo

    The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage communities and test education systems around the world. Evidence from Education International’s surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on education shows that the equity and quality gaps have widened because of the pandemic (see for examplehere andhere) .

    “Investing in education: a must for post-pandemic recovery and SDG progress”, by Dennis Sinyolo
  10. Opinion 12 April 2021

    “On Edtech, the public good, and democracy”

    David Edwards

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought death and despair. However, it has also sharpened our vision. We have seen dangers more clearly and trends that were threatening the health of our societies. In some areas, like inequality, it is apparent to everybody. In others, however, risky developments are partially hidden. These...

    “On Edtech, the public good, and democracy”
  11. News 6 April 2021

    Europe: Study on industrial relations and privatisation

    A study for the ETUCE, EI’s European region, showed the impact of market ideology and management practices and privatisation on industrial relations and social dialogue. In addition to looking at the evolution of EU policy in the past decade, researchers studied different methods and results of industrial relations in Francophone...

    Europe: Study on industrial relations and privatisation
  12. Publications and Research

    Pandemic Privatisation in Higher Education: Edtech & University Reform

    Ben Williamson, Anna Hogan
    15 February 2021

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, a state of emergency engulfed higher education. The crisis of mass campus closures and a rapid ‘pivot’ to online learning became the context for attempts by private actors and commercial organisations to reconfigure the sector.

    Pandemic Privatisation in Higher Education: Edtech & University Reform
    1. Report
    2. Summary
  13. Opinion 9 February 2021

    “Post-pandemic reform of higher education: Market-first or purpose-first digital transformation?”, by Ben Williamson and Anna Hogan.

    Ben Williamson, Anna Hogan

    Educational technologies have become central to higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of emergency in tertiary systems worldwide has enabled private edtech companies, global tech businesses, and the networks of promoters backing them, to define the post-pandemic future of the university.

    “Post-pandemic reform of higher education: Market-first or purpose-first digital transformation?”, by Ben Williamson and Anna Hogan.
  14. News 8 December 2020

    WIPO’s missed opportunity to produce guidance on copyright exceptions hits education during pandemic

    A legal instrument on copyright exceptions for the use of materials for teaching, learning, research, and the work of cultural heritage organisations is still not available. According to Education International, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) missed an opportunity at its recent Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)...

    WIPO’s missed opportunity to produce guidance on copyright exceptions hits education during pandemic