Education International
Education International

Private schools won’t lead to achievement of quality education for all, stresses EI

published 14 November 2013 updated 27 November 2013

EI has reacted to an article by James Tooley published by The Spectator on 9 November claiming that Education International is using Malala Yousafza’s story to drive the case for government schools.

In his article in The Spectator of 9 November, James Tooley, professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, claims that Malala, who attended a private school in Pakistan and continues going to a private school in Birmingham stands for “the right to educational choice, to educational freedom; the right to a private education.”

In his response to Tooley’s claim, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen writes that Malala is not driving the case for public or for private education, but that she simply gives a voice to millions of young people who are still denied the right to education.  He also draws the attention to the fact that private school organizations in Pakistan have recently banned Malala’s book.

Public authorities to guarantee right to education

“James Tooley should know that the right to education, like all other human rights, can be achieved only when governments live up to their responsibility; when they provide sufficient resources for school buildings, for teaching and learning materials and for teachers’ wages”, van Leeuwen notes. “Where they have failed to do so, as in Pakistan, private schools emerge”.

“We are not against private schools. Education International, in fact, represents – through its affiliates – many private school teachers,” Van Leeuwen writes. “We are happy that parents who can afford the tuition fees at least have a possibility of sending their children to these schools. But we are deeply concerned about the millions of people who have little or no money to pay for school fees or for books and learning materials. Does Tooley want these parents to choose between feeding their children, giving them medication, or sending them to school? I hope not.”

“Private schools, whether low fee, charity-based or commercially driven, are not the answer to the challenge of achieving universal primary education for all. Education is a basic right and a public good; it must be free and should be – as the responsibility of governments and society to our shared future – publicly financed.”

EI Unite for Quality Education campaign

EI and its 400-plus member organisations recently launched the one-year Unite for Quality Education initiative. It aims precisely at raising awareness globally about the fact that education, an undeniable public good, is also the right of every student and an urgent responsibility of government. The remaining hope the world has for economic security, health, nutrition, environment and even peace is linked to providing a quality education to every student.

For more information about EI and its affiliates’ campaign, Unite for Quality Education, please click here