Education International
Education International

Pearson stakeholders’ report rings alarm bell about privatisation in education

published 12 April 2016 updated 18 May 2016

A report published by Education International has put the world’s biggest private education company on notice, detailing the multinational’s threat to education quality and access through the pursuit of its financial interests.

In a letter to Pearson’s CEO John Fallon, which precedes a six-page Stakeholders’ Report, EI expresses its concern over the perilous impact that the company is exerting on the sector. The document stresses that while Pearson’s stated mission is to “empower people to progress in their lives through learning,” its business strategy is built on the idea that education is not a public good or a human right but rather a commodity that can be bought and sold.

The stakeholders’ report relates the privatization of education to a shift in national governments’ commitment “towards marketized solutions to education problems.” Proponents of this global trend  aim to achieve a higher efficiency and effectiveness in education. Though by becoming involved in the education sector as one of its major players, Pearson “ultimately hopes to earn a significant return on the $5 trillion USD spent globally on education each year,” the report underlines.

The report and letter question Pearson’s claims that it is helping to improve students’ learning outcomes and increase access to quality education by being a “profitable and cash generative company.” However, on the contrary, the report argues that the company’s current business strategy is undermining the very fabric of public education.

In his letter to the Pearson CEO, Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary, writes that “Pearson needs the conviction to stand up and truly invest in its claims that it is a socially responsible business committed to empowering all lives through learning,” and by doing so “it would promote the principles of educational access and equity for all young people and protect the democratic rights of teachers and students.”

Action by a coalition of EI affiliates challenging Pearson's business practices, and introducing a shareholder resolution calling on Pearson to stop focusing on over-testing and school privatisation:

Pearson PLC is the world’s largest education company, or ‘edubusiness,’ with operations in more than 70 countries. Its services range from the provision of learning materials, assessments and education-related services to governments, schools, teachers, parents and students, to the creation of for-profit private schools, especially in the Global South.

To send a clear message to Pearson that every child has the right to a free, high quality public education, click on www.tellpearson.org and add your name to the campaign.

Download here Pearson Stakeholders’ Report and related correspondence sent to Pearson CEO, John Fallon.