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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 31 January 2020

    Privatisation of education in Morocco - A multi-speed education system and a polarised society

    By Khadija Abdous This blog summarises some of the main findings from the recently published research report: Privatisation of Education in Morocco - A Multi-speed Education System and A Polarized Society , which outlines the current trends and manifestations of education privatisation in Morocco. It is also an opportunity to...

    Privatisation of education in Morocco - A multi-speed education system and a polarised society
  2. Publications and Research

    Privatisation of education in Morocco. A multi-speed education system and a polarised society.

    Khadija Abdous
    24 January 2020

    The study is a detailed examination of the trends and current manifestations of privatisation in education in Morocco. The report also sheds light on various public education reforms implemented in Morocco and how privatisation policies have affected these reforms.

    Privatisation of education in Morocco. A multi-speed education system and a polarised society.
    1. Report (in French)
    2. Summary (in English)
    3. Summary (in Arabic)
  3. Opinion 17 January 2020

    Educators reject the Education Outcomes Fund

    By David Edwards, General Secretary - Education International  The Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) is set to launch its first operations in just a few months' time. As the preparations ensue, Education International, the voice of over 32 million teachers and educators from across the globe, wants to make it clear...

    Educators reject the Education Outcomes Fund
  4. News 13 January 2020

    The privatisation of education under the spotlight in the Caribbean

    On January 11-12 leaders of Education International member organisations in the Caribbean came together in Bridgetown, Barbados to develop a deeper understanding of Education International’s Global Response to the privatisation and commercialisation of education and to consider the situation across their region.

    The privatisation of education under the spotlight in the Caribbean
  5. Opinion 23 December 2019

    "On life and the market", by David Edwards.

    David Edwards

    From an early age, we try to fit children into the world. Instead, perhaps, we should reflect on how the world should fit children.

    "On life and the market", by David Edwards.
  6. Opinion 20 December 2019

    Public Private Partnerships in Liberia have failed! The Education Minister must act now to save the Liberian Education system

    By Mary Mulbah and Samuel Y. Johnson  In this blog responding to the recent release of RCT results on Liberia’s PPP experiment, the President and General Secretary of the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) reaffirm teachers’ rejection of the Liberian Education Advancement Programme and urge the government to focus...

    Public Private Partnerships in Liberia have failed! The Education Minister must act now to save the Liberian Education system
  7. Opinion 16 December 2019

    An attempt at the first ‘Davos of Education’: Dissonances in the OECD-Forum for World Education on The Future of Education

    By Camilla Addey and Antoni Verger, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain This year’s PISA 2018 data launch on 3rd December 2019 was no normal launch. Angel Gurría, the Secretary General of the OECD, released the league tables, focusing his analysis on top performers (which included, as is becoming usual, a...

    An attempt at the first ‘Davos of Education’: Dissonances in the OECD-Forum for World Education on The Future of Education
  8. Publications and Research

    Public education in Greece: Aspects and trends of emerging privatisation

    5 December 2019

    Commissioned and led by the Greek Primary Teachers’ Federation (DOE) and the Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (OLME), the study is part of EI’s Global Response to the Privatisation and Commercialisation in and of Education.

    Public education in Greece: Aspects and trends of emerging privatisation
    1. Full study (in Greek)
    2. Summary (in English)
    3. Summary (in Greek)
  9. News 28 November 2019

    Greece: Report warns of emerging privatisation in public education

    Today Education International (EI) affiliates in Greece launched a study revealing the growing trend towards privatisation in public education, following years of austerity and poor funding. The report marks the beginning of a regional strategy to fight privatisation and commercialisation in education in Southern Europe.

    Greece: Report warns of emerging privatisation in public education
  10. News 22 November 2019

    Chile: educators demand an end to the violence

    During its 55th meeting in Brussels on November 19-21, the Executive Board of Education International (EI) adopted a resolution condemning the violence against peaceful protestors in Chile and demanding respect for students, teachers and civil society.

    Chile: educators demand an end to the violence
  11. Opinion 8 November 2019

    How the global edu-business Pearson is making higher education markets

    By Ben Williamson, University of Edinburgh, UK The global education business Pearson has established itself as a major player in higher education around the world. With core business interests in data-driven education, digital online courses, and alternative HE models, Pearson is actively promoting the further marketization, commercialization and privatization of...

    How the global edu-business Pearson is making higher education markets
  12. Opinion 7 November 2019

    #SABERexposed “Engaging the Private Sector”, by Brendan DeCoster.

    Brendan DeCoster

    As part of the blog series critiquing the World Bank’s Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) initiative, I examine some of the more problematic aspects of the Bank’s claims that 1) they are representing a consensus on engagement of the private sector and 2) that they are not pursuing...

    #SABERexposed “Engaging the Private Sector”, by Brendan DeCoster.
  13. News 7 November 2019

    Liberia: Renewed fight against increasing privatisation

    In Liberia, educators and their unions are determined to fight back against the privatisation and commercialisation of education in the face of strengthened links between the government and edu-business.

    Liberia: Renewed fight against increasing privatisation
  14. News 5 November 2019

    New report sheds light on the threat privatisation poses for higher education in Latin America

    A new study coordinated by CONADU (the National Federation of University Teachers) for Education International examines how privatisation is infringing upon higher education, the threat it poses for education systems, and the options available to unions to resist this process.

    New report sheds light on the threat privatisation poses for higher education in Latin America
  15. Opinion 5 November 2019

    Privatisation and commercialisation of universities in Latin America

    By Fernanda Saforcada and Yamile Socolovsky Today we are releasing the results of the first stage of an ongoing research project, which aims to explain clearly the main characteristics and patterns of the phenomenon of university privatisation and commercialisation in Latin America. This study is not intended to be neutral;...

    Privatisation and commercialisation of universities in Latin America
  16. Opinion 30 October 2019

    “Teachers – Being in Control or Being Controlled?”, by Jim Baker.

    Jim Baker

    The status and role of professional teachers are affected by global efforts to make schools reason and operate like private companies even in some schools systems that may appear untouched by market reform fervour. A publication released last month on the profession addresses, in different contexts, the impact of that...

    “Teachers – Being in Control or Being Controlled?”, by Jim Baker.