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Privatisation in Education

In the last decade, policies that involve some level of education privatisation, including public-private partnerships (PPPs), vouchers and “low-fee” private schools, have become increasingly prominent in global education debates and policies. The urgent need to achieve the Education For All goals and the MDGs, as well as the effects of the financial crisis worldwide, has made governments and international organisations more willing to introduce different forms of education privatisation.  At the same time, the private sector is increasingly targeting public education systems as profitable markets, seeing business (and profit) opportunities through the sale of textbooks, consultancies, ICT technologies, teacher training, evaluation systems, tests, etc. This new push for private sector engagement in education is arguably shrinking the space for public processes of policy making and debate, sidelining citizens as the key drivers of policy while private corporations and organisations become more dominant. 

Many national coalitions within the GCE membership are reporting negative effects of privatisation and public-private partnerships, especially in terms of the impact on equality and the promotion of an education consistent with human rights and the public good. The growth of privatisation is also recognized as a human rights concern internationally.

For example, read the latest Report on Privatisation from the UN Special Rapporteur on Education (Sept 2014)



in English, French, Spanish or Arabic.




GCE and Member Materials on Privatisation in Education

Civil society organisations that defend public education and public policy making must act to defend public education.

GCE CEDAW THUMBJoint submission to CEDAW on impact of privatisation of education on girls’ education.

Download in English here




Undertsanding PPP“Gain or Drain: Understanding Public Private Partnerships in Education” ASPBAE primer on PPP in Education. 

Download in English here



CLADE website on privatisation of education in Latin America, in Spanish 

Workshops on Privatisation in Education

GCE undertook a range of workshops on privatisation in different regions to contribute towards building the movement on the issue.

Manila Workshop on Privatisation in Education: ‘Privatisation, public-private partnerships and the right to education: building critical research skills.’ The workshop was organized in 1-3 August 2013 by GCE, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ASPBAE and E-NET Philippines in Manila. Pre-Event Materials can be found here (in English)

Workshop on Privatisation in Africa: Education International research affiliates and GCE coalition representatives came together for a three-day Africa and MENA regional conference on “Privatisation and the Right to Education” in Johannesburg, South Africa on 16-18 January 2014. An overview of the workshop can be accessed here 

CLADE SP 2012 THUMBPrivatisation of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Report from a seminar held in 2012 by the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) and OSF.

Download report in English and Spanish.



Resources on Privatisation in Education

The Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) website has a vast amount of information and resources www.periglobal.org

Materials on the issue from a human rights perspective can be accessed on the privatisation section of the Right to Education Project website 

Education International also has some excellent resources on the issue, accessible here

The Global Initiative on Economic and Socio Cultural Rights (GIESCR) also has some good resources. Go here for more on their research, and here for their community page and blog.


New resources for civil society education coalitions: Using human rights tools to tackle the negative effects of privatisation on the right to education - 2015

For the past 18 months, a number of international, national and local organisations have worked together to research and assess the effects of the growth of privatisation in education from a human rights perspective in 8 countries. These include Morocco, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Brazil, Chile and Nepal, and in the UK, organisations have examined the impact of development aid to support to private education in developing countries. This work, led by the Global Initiative on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) in Partnership with the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) and the Right to Education Project (RTE), has led to statements and recommendations from key UN rights bodies, and contributed to reports by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council on the impact of private actors on the right to education.

These efforts have fuelled national advocacy and dialogue with governments, private actors and other stakeholders on the issue of privatisation – and created an effective methodology that civil society can use to tackle issues of privatisation in education in their countries. The methodology can easily be replicated by coalitions, including those with no prior experience of using human rights mechanisms. The three short briefs below provide an introduction to this work and explains how to get involved. 

OSF PEHR F 1-1 thumb

 Private actors in Education & Human Rights: a practical methodology to tackle the negative effects of  privatisation in education on the right to education

 Download in English                               Download in French



OSF Step by step F 2-1 thumb How to Use Human Rights Mechanisms

 Download in English                               Download in French




OSF Case Studies F 3-1 thumb Case Studies on: Parallel Reporting to Tackle Privatisation in Education

 Download in English                               Download in French





EI PRIV 2007 THUMBHidden Privatisation in Public Education

This report by Stephen Ball and Deborah Youdell, Institute for Education on behalf of Education International, focuses on the growing tendency amongst governments world-wide to introduce forms of privatisation into public education and to move to privatise sections of public education.



EI 2009 PPP THUMBPublic Private Partnerships in Education

An Education International research report focusing on the types and impact of privatisation in education, with recommendations for members and campaigning organisations on combating the challenges posed.



Global Manegerial Edu THUMBGlobal Managerial Education - Reforms And Teachers: Emerging Policies, Controversies And Issues In Developing Contexts

Volume of national case studies compiled on behalf of Education International



UK Parliamentary Debate: the notes of a 2012 debate on low fee private schools and global education for all, held by politicians and experts in the UK parliament.

BBC News article based on the discussion at the above meeting.



A PERI Debate on Privatisation in Education

This video examines the growing trend of privatisation of education globally through the voices of the participants of a summer school on regionalisation, globalisation and privatisation of education.

Education for all: who learns? Who pays? And why?

This lecture by Joel Samoff (Stanford University) was given as part the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative’s summer school on Globalisation, Regionalisation and Privatisation of Education. It explores global targets associated with the education for all from aspects of access, quality and the role of education in society as well as the associated financing of education and how it is structured.

A film exploring the impact of low-fee private schools in Pakistan. 

Sponsored Academies in the UK

These types of school are an example of education public-private partnerships (ePPPs).

Privatised Education in Chile: Legacy and Protest

Privatisation and its impact in a country with vast economic inequality.

For Profit Schools in South Africa

A film exploring the growth of private schools in South Africa.

Private tutoring in Cambodia 

A film exploring the impact of private tutoring on pupils and teachers in Cambodia.


Other resources

Disaster Capitalism Curriculum THUMB Arch Comix: Education

 An interesting comic strip taking a view on privatisation in education in the US.