Latin America: a unified strategy in defence of quality public education

published 26 September 2017 updated 28 September 2017

With a growing number of countries in Latin America hit by the privatisation and commercialisation of education, the response, coordination and strategy is reaching higher levels.

The expansion of education businesses’ strategies and the changing nature of public education systems are triggering a coordinated response from education unions across the Latin American continent. A meeting in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, last week brought together education union leaders to share their national experiences and discuss further steps to be taken collectively.

The event, co-organised by Education International’s (EI) Latin American office and the Friedrich Ebert foundation, included chapters on the role of International Financial Institutions as well as multilateral agencies in the shaping of education policy.

Reactions from the continent

Fátima Silva, vice president of EI’s Latin American region, emphasised that education systems were facing external as well as internal challenges, which called for greater unity both within countries and with organisations from abroad. Combertty Rodríguez, chief coordinator of EI’s regional office – based in Costa Rica – underlined that the shared experiences would allow participants to shape their action in the future.

Great transformations

Angelo Gavrielatos and Mar Candela who lead the Global Response project at EI’s headquarters attended the meeting. Gavrielatos stressed that the privatisation and commercialisation of education were taking place “not only in specific countries, but also at global level, taking over education policy, reinterpreting and rewriting its aims for their own benefit. Private profit strategies in education are going very far,” he concluded.

Educators fight for quality education in Uruguay

The example of Uruguay helped delegates understand the far-reaching consequences of privatisation and how a coordinated union response can counter its expansion. José Olivera (FeNaPes) and Elbia Pereira (FUM-Tep) answered questions explaining how to spot, interpret and act upon signs that the education system of a country is being commercialised. Opening the debate and making space for the participation of education unions in the policy dialogue was one of the key factors that both speakers highlighted.

You can see pictures of the event by clicking here