Ei-iE

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teacher remote learning

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. Take action! 19 July 2022

    Teachers around the world mobilise to transform education. Join us!

    1.6 billion students were out of school at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions are still struggling with trauma and learning loss. Teachers and education workers have done the impossible to support their students and school communities in this time of crisis. But the crushing workloads, poor pay, and...

    Teachers around the world mobilise to transform education. Join us!
  2. News 5 July 2022

    Nigeria: Teachers call for more investment in public education to combat growing privatisation

    The national president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Audu Titus Amba, expressed concerns over the proliferation of unregulated private schools in Nigeria. These schools, with the sole aim of making profit, are detrimental to the achievement of quality education for all.

    Nigeria: Teachers call for more investment in public education to combat growing privatisation
  3. Publications and Research

    Education versus austerity

    Why public sector wage bill constraints undermine teachers and public education systems -and must end
    24 June 2022

    At least 69 million more teachers are needed by 2030 to achieve the sustainable development goal on education, yet around the word existing teachers face low pay and deteriorating conditions, affecting the status of the profession. There is a clear common cause uniting low pay and teacher shortages – both...

    Education versus austerity
    1. Education versus austerity-Policy brief
  4. Opinion 13 June 2022

    Why the education community should be paying attention to the WTO E-commerce Work Programme

    Michael Geist

    E-commerce has emerged in recent years as critical part of commercial activity. With mounting online sale of goods and delivery of services, the implications of e-commerce for the education community arise at both the commercial and policy levels. Indeed, e-commerce and online education delivery played an increasingly prominent and important...

    Why the education community should be paying attention to the WTO E-commerce Work Programme
  5. E-commerce, Education and Copyright: A Policy Brief

    by Michael Geist
    13 June 2022

    In the context of the World Trade Organisation’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva on 12-15 June 2022, Education International calls on governments to deliver a comprehensive intellectual property waiver on Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests and warns of the risk of increasing commercialisation of education and research due to...

    E-commerce, Education and Copyright: A Policy Brief
    1. Download
  6. Opinion 9 May 2022

    Education and Copyright: obstacles to teaching in the digital age

    Teresa Nobre

    Access to knowledge is an important aspect of the right to education . In order to respond to the needs in the classroom, teachers often complement traditional teaching resources (e.g., textbooks and other curated materials) with a wide spectrum of materials from a variety of sources (e.g., short videos, images,...

    Education and Copyright: obstacles to teaching in the digital age
  7. Opinion 26 April 2022

    Enabling the future of youth research through copyright

    Sean M. Fiil-Flynn

    This year’s World Intellectual Property Day is being dedicated to the theme of youth empowerment . The focus is on recognition of the role of youth “stepping up to innovation challenges, using their energy and ingenuity, their curiosity and creativity to steer a course towards a better future.” Intellectual property...

    Enabling the future of youth research through copyright
  8. Opinion 23 April 2022

    Economically disadvantaged Malawi teachers bear the brunt of IMF wage bill policies

    Dr. Limbani Eliya Nsapato

    Malawi has a long-term relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which drives the country’s macroeconomic policies, often to the detriment of progress in targeted sectors such as education and health. Malawi became a member of the IMF on 19 July 1965 and has had at least 16 arrangements (loans)...

    Economically disadvantaged Malawi teachers bear the brunt of IMF wage bill policies
  9. Opinion 22 April 2022

    The impact of IMF policies on the public service wage bill in Zambia

    Gideon Bulwani

    There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the International Monetary Fund austerity measures have the potential to negatively affect Zambian ability to attain SDG 4. It is a paradox that the global system encourages investment in access to quality education for all, while putting obstacles along the path to the...

    The impact of IMF policies on the public service wage bill in Zambia
  10. Opinion 20 April 2022

    Wage Bill Constraints: Hardship of Teachers in Nepal

    Prabin Kumar Acharya

    In 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) directed the governments of 15 countries, including Nepal, to reduce their public expenditure. This has greatly impacted teachers after the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Wage Bill Constraints: Hardship of Teachers in Nepal
  11. Opinion 20 April 2022

    IMF policies undermine quality education

    Dennis Sinyolo

    Teacher quality, status, and conditions matter. Quality learning depends on quality teaching, delivered by qualified, well-supported, and motivated teachers.

    IMF policies undermine quality education
  12. News 11 April 2022

    Africa: Educators united to resist privatisation and defend quality public education

    Privatisation, the importance of State funding in public education, and campaigns to combat the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education all came under the spotlight at a recent online forum. Organised by Education International’s Africa Region (EIRAF) office, the webinar focused on the need to resist privatisation and defend...

    Africa: Educators united to resist privatisation and defend quality public education
  13. Statements 16 March 2022

    World Bank to exit investment in for-profit school chain Bridge International Academies

    Education International (EI) welcomes the decision from the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to stop investing in the for-profit chain of schools, Bridge International Academies. The IFC had invested more than US$ 10 million in Bridge International Academies operations in Africa and supported the company's...

    World Bank to exit investment in for-profit school chain Bridge International Academies
  14. Publications and Research

    Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean

    Steven J. Courtney, Rinnelle Lee-Piggott
    9 February 2022

    This report is an initial mapping of education privatisation trends in the Caribbean region and will form the basis for further analysis and union action. It draws attention to favourable conditions for privatisation across the region, including a chronic underfunding of public education systems.

    Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean
    1. Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean - full research paper
    2. Time to turn the tide: Privatisation trends in education in the Caribbean - Summary of findings
  15. Opinion 9 February 2022

    Privatisation Trends in Education in the Caribbean

    Steven J. Courtney, Rinnelle Lee-Piggott

    Privatisation has been a focus of education research for many years, particularly in western liberal democracies. However, the phenomenon is relatively under-researched within the Caribbean region. This matters.

    Privatisation Trends in Education in the Caribbean
  16. Opinion 28 January 2022

    Challenging global tech giants: the critical role of Global labour

    Carmen Ludwig, Edward Webster

    In a recent research paper, Carmen Ludwig and Edward Webster examined the role of global unions to contest the use and abuse of digital technology through transnational activism in two African contexts. Action included work with Education International’s Global Response against the privatisation of education.

    Challenging global tech giants: the critical role of Global labour