Ei-iE

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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 29 October 2019

    World Bank ombudsman to launch investigation into IFC funding of Bridge International Academies

    The World Bank’s accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), has published a report that finds “substantial concerns” regarding the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s investment in for-profit education provider Bridge International Academies and has announced that they will launch an investigation into the matter.

    World Bank ombudsman to launch investigation into IFC funding of Bridge International Academies
  2. Opinion 22 October 2019

    “Education International. Eighth World Congress”, by John Bangs.

    John Bangs

    The online magazine ‘Education Journal’ recently published in its edition 385 a report of Education International’s eighth World Congress in Bangkok by EI Senior Consultant, John Bangs. Education Journal has agreed to its publication for Worlds of Education. It has been slightly edited for EI’s global audience.

    “Education International. Eighth World Congress”, by John Bangs.
  3. News 18 October 2019

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

    “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.

    Public education systems in Pacific plagued by commercial activity, new EI report finds
  4. Publications and Research

    Privatisation and commodification of university in Latin America: The cases of Argentina, Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic

    Fernanda Saforcada, Daniela Atairo, Lucía Trotta, Aldana Rodríguez Golisano
    17 October 2019

    Since the late 20th century, Latin American higher education has witnessed two major processes: firstly, considerable expansion – a sustained increase in enrolment, a growing number of institutions, and growth and diversification of study programmes, levels and qualifications; secondly, a decline in public funding.

    Privatisation and commodification of university in Latin America: The cases of Argentina, Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic
    1. Report (in Spanish)
    2. Summary (in English)
  5. Statements 17 October 2019

    Statement | EI calls on World Bank to change tack in education

    As the board of governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund come together for the 2019 Annual Meetings in Washington this week, Education International sends two clear messages to the World Bank:

    Statement | EI calls on World Bank to change tack in education
  6. Publications and Research

    Commercial Activity in Pacific Education

    Anna Hogan, Greg Thompson, Bob Lingard, Dr Mesake Dakuidreketi
    10 October 2019

    This study collected scoping data to document and understand the extent of privatisation and commercialisation of education in eight Council of Pacific Education (COPE) nations - the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

    Commercial Activity in Pacific Education
    1. Report
    2. Summary
  7. Opinion 30 September 2019

    Investing in public education – Europe can take a lead

    By Howard Stevenson, the University of Nottingham In many parts of the world the new academic year is just beginning. In the European Union this is also the time of year when the EU’s annual cycle of economic monitoring and social policy coordination commences. Through a sometimes obscure process called...

    Investing in public education – Europe can take a lead
  8. Opinion 26 September 2019

    Right to authorship, by Yamile Socolovsky

    Yamile Socolovsky

    Education International's decision to encourage discussion of an International Treaty concerning the exceptions and limitations to copyright for educational and research activities is both timely and necessary. The obstacles imposed on these activities by the excessively restrictive regulations in this area become remarkably difficult to overcome in the current context,...

    Right to authorship, by Yamile Socolovsky
  9. Opinion 18 September 2019

    Cruella DeVos’ Privatization Plan: Proposed Budget Cuts for Public Schools and More Money for Failing Charters

    By Carol Anne Spreen, New York University Last week, the US Department of Education attempted to suspend an employee for releasing Secretary of Education DeVos’ education budget to the Washington Post and to the Office of Special Counsel due to what the whistleblower deemed “inaccurate, misleading and dishonest” information. According...

    Cruella DeVos’ Privatization Plan: Proposed Budget Cuts for Public Schools and More Money for Failing Charters
  10. Opinion 15 September 2019

    “Education on the International Day of Democracy”, by David Edwards.

    David Edwards

    The United Nations established the International Day of Democracy on the 15th of September in 2007 to promote democracy. In 2019, it is clear that democracy and all the things that go with it like human rights and rule of law need to be defended as well as promoted. Education...

    “Education on the International Day of Democracy”, by David Edwards.
  11. News 7 September 2019

    UK: Member of Parliament argues for international aid to support public education systems, not private providers

    Education International welcomes the intervention of UK Member of Parliament Dan Carden who demanded that his country’s international aid be used to support universally accessible inclusive quality public education, and not private education providers in the Global South.

    UK: Member of Parliament argues for international aid to support public education systems, not private providers
  12. News 5 September 2019

    Argentina: new video gives insights into mechanisms of privatisation and commercialisation in education

    Focusing on the key findings of a study on the privatisation of education in Argentina commissioned by Education International, the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina has launched the video ‘Educación S.A.’ to highlight how economic interests advocating for the privatisation and commercialisation of Argentina’s public...

    Argentina: new video gives insights into mechanisms of privatisation and commercialisation in education