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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. News 28 February 2007

    ASEAN countries sign services deal with China

    The ten member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ended their annual summit on 15 January by unveiling a new free trade agreement in services with China.

    ASEAN countries sign services deal with China
  2. News 28 February 2007

    U.S has failed to comply in gambling case: WTO panel

    A WTO panel has found that the United States has failed to comply with a controversial ruling against American restrictions on Internet gambling.

    U.S has failed to comply in gambling case: WTO panel
  3. News 28 February 2007

    EU pushes bilateral trade agreements

    The European Union wants to negotiate free trade agreements with India, Korea, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an EU official announced in January.

    EU pushes bilateral trade agreements
  4. News 28 February 2007

    Indian students collect five million signatures

    Five million signatures collected by the Students' Federation of India (SFI) from across the country demanding the protection of public education were submitted to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on January 22, 2007.

    Indian students collect five million signatures
  5. News 23 November 2006

    EI insists on free universal access to education at UN meeting

    EI recently attended an Expert Meeting on Universal Access to Services organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) from 14-16 November in Geneva.

    EI insists on free universal access to education at UN meeting
  6. 23 November 2006

    Trade Liberalisation and Universal Access to Education Services

    Note prepared by Education International for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)'s "Expert Meeting on Universal Access to Services" held in Geneva, Switzerland, 14-16 November 2006.

    Trade Liberalisation and Universal Access to Education Services
  7. News 31 October 2006

    Issue no.11 of TradEducation News now available for download

    In this issue, EI explains how the continuing deadlock of the Doha Round of WTO talks is prompting the shift in focus to bilateral and regional agreements, and warns of the potential impact this might have on education services.

    Issue no.11 of TradEducation News now available for download
  8. News 9 October 2006

    Caribbean union of teachers embraces CSME, rejects GATS

    Speaking at the EI/CUT Round Table Meeting in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves challenged teacher union leaders to familiarise themselves with the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and its affects upon the free movement of teachers within the region.

    Caribbean union of teachers embraces CSME, rejects GATS
  9. News 12 September 2006

    Issue no.10 of TradEducation out now!

    In this issue, you will find reports of EI’s lobby meetings in Geneva during the G-6 meeting in July. To download TradEducation, please clickhere .

    Issue no.10 of TradEducation out now!
  10. News 20 July 2006

    Too much emphasis put on the role of the private sector in G8 Declaration

    Education International welcomes the attention G8 leaders have given to education as one of the most effective tools to combat poverty and promote economic and democratic development. However, it is concerned about the emphasis put on the role of the private sector.

    Too much emphasis put on the role of the private sector in G8 Declaration
  11. News 7 July 2006

    Global unions urge G8 not to leave education to market forces

    MOSCOW -- In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin held at the Kremlin on 6 July, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen urged leaders of the G8 nations not to abdicate their responsibility to invest in quality public education.

    Global unions urge G8 not to leave education to market forces
  12. News 6 July 2006

    TradEducation News issue no.9

    The latest issue of EI's newsletter on GATS has just be published. In this issue, we talk about the failure of the informal WTO ministerial meeting to break the current deadlock, EI meetings with WTO delegations in Geneva, new GATS rules on domestic regulation and EI's reservations about these rules.

    TradEducation News issue no.9
  13. News 4 July 2006

    The World Trade Organisation: Talks enter “crisis” stage

    Time is running out on WTO trade talks after ministers gathering in Geneva at the end of June failed to reach a crucial agreement on tariff and subsidy reductions for agricultural and industrial goods.

    The World Trade Organisation: Talks enter “crisis” stage
  14. News 17 May 2006

    Canada: 29 May – National Fundraising Count Day aims to audit commercial activities in schools

    EI affiliates the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) and the Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement (FSE) invite teachers and principals across the country to walk around in their schools and carry out an audit of fundraising and advertising activities, as part of a National Fundraising Count Day on May 29.

    Canada: 29 May – National Fundraising Count Day aims to audit commercial activities in schools
  15. News 10 May 2006

    Canada: CTF's survey of schools reveals advertising and commercial activities filling education funding gap

    EI affiliate, the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF)'s recent study involving elementary and secondary publicly funded schools across Canada has uncovered some startling revelations on the extent of advertising presence and marketing deals in schools in order to offset chronic underfunding of education systems in every province and territory.

    Canada: CTF's survey of schools reveals advertising and commercial activities filling education funding gap
  16. News 12 April 2006

    TradEducation issue no.8 now available for download!

    The new issue of EI's bulletin on GATS and the WTO, TradEducation, has just been published. In this issue, we talk about the New Zealand government spearheading an effort to open up their private higher education "market", EI's meeting with key WTO negotiators and rules on domestic regulations.

    TradEducation issue no.8 now available for download!