To remain informed about key developments on private actors and the right to education, sign up to our mailing list: http://bit.ly/privatnews
- Page on the process and development of Human Rights Guiding Principles on the obligations of States regarding private actors in education: http://bit.ly/GPprivatisation
- Page on private actors in education services of Francophone countries: “La problématique des acteurs privés dans les services éducatifs des pays francophones” http://bit.ly/privfr
- Page on the commercial schools and the right to education: see here http://bit.ly/commerceduc, includes updates on Bridge International Academies
- A summary of the outcomes of the work: The GI-ESCR publishes a regularly updated synthesis paper summing up the statements of UN human rights expert bodies on the role of private actors in education and human rights. The latest version, from October 2016 is here: http://bit.ly/synthesisprivatisationV7
- Update on Liberia: Liberia is currently going through an unprecedented outsourcing of its education system. To find out more, follow our regularly updated page here: http://bit.ly/PrivatEducLiberia
The GI-ESCR is currently working in 6 areas related to the role of private actors in education. Click on the following to find out more:
The right to education guarantees that everyone should enjoy a quality education, free from discrimination and exclusion. This right, as UNESCO has recognised, is “… a powerful tool by which economically and socially marginalised adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens.” While important progress has been made in ensuring that the right to education is enjoyed by all, today millions of children remain deprived of educational opportunities, and globally the UN estimates that 123 million young people between the ages of 15-24 do not have basic reading and writing skills (61 percent of whom are young women).
Amidst this backdrop of continuing inequality, the global landscape when it comes to education is also rapidly changing. One of the most notable of these changes is the recent trend towards privatisation in education in many countries. The detrimental impacts related to private investment in provision of health care, water and sanitation infrastructure, and land, including ‘land-grabbing’, have increasingly been documented in recent years. Privatisation of education appears to be the new horizon that profit making investors are rushing into.
This trend is proving to have significant implications for the enjoyment of the human right to education, both in terms of quality and accessibility to education. As the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education highlighted in a recent report about the Millennium Development Goals Post-2015 Framework: “in many parts of the world inequalities in opportunities for education will be exacerbated by the growth of unregulated private providers of education, with wealth or economic status becoming the most important criterion to access a quality education.”
In particular, concern has been raised that privatisation in education can lead to greater discrimination and that “[m]arginalised groups fail to enjoy the bulk of the positive impacts and also bear the disproportionate burden of the negative impacts of privatisation [in education].” Wealth inequalities, between those who can afford to pay for private education providers and those who cannot, but also spatial inequalities, are just reinforced by privatisation, further pushing into poverty already vulnerable groups.
Besides, privatisation implies that States are no longer themselves providing education to the general public, and instead allow this role to be filled by non-State entities and institutions. However, under the international human rights framework, States are the duty-bearer when it comes to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the right to education, and they must ensure that there is no retrogression when it comes to the advancement and enjoyment of this right. Besides, privatisation questions and weakens the role of the State in one of the most essential social services, affecting issues from democratic participation to accountability and also impacting many other human rights.
Further discussion and dialogue are needed within international human rights circles to shed light on these issues, and to highlight people’s experiences where privatisation in education is taking place. To help advance the discussion, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its partners, with the support of the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative have engaged in national and international advocacy on the topic.
- 10/11/2016 Uganda judgement on the closure of Bridge International Academies must signal a move towards fulfilling the right to education in Uganda and other countries
- 11/10/2016 UN Committee recommends The Philipines to strengthen its public education system
- 12/08/2016 Uganda to close the largest chain of commercial private schools over non-respect of basic education standards
- 16/06/2016 UK fails to give a clear response to yet another UN body challenging its support to commercial schools
- 12/06/2016 Invitation à signer l’Appel de la société civile francophone contre la marchandisation de l’éducation
- 10/06/2016 The UN says UK development aid to commercial private schools could violate children’s rights
- 10/06/2016 Selon l’ONU, l’aide au développement du RoyaumeUni qui va à des écoles privées à but lucratif pourrait constituer une violation des droits des enfants
- 04/06/2016 Nepalese government announces reducing budget and promoting vouchers in education – forgetting about human rights
- 24/05/2016 UK could be harming children’s rights abroad – and the government fails to comment
- 31/03/2016 Event – For-Profit, Fee Charging private schools: meeting the World Bank’s goals?
- 12/03/2016 La société civile francophone se mobilise contre la marchandisation de l’éducation dans le monde
- 02/03/2016 After the UN, the African Commission cautions against privatisation in education in Uganda
- 09/02/2016 The United Nation raises alarm about the lack of regulation and donor support in education in Kenya
- 20/11/2015 Two expert human rights bodies worried about the commercialization of education in Kenya
- 15/10/2015 Organisations across the world say British aid to private schools could violate human rights abroad
- 02/09/2015 Event – Setting the Rules of the Game: how can regulations of private actors ensure the right to education post-2015?
- 24/06/2015 UN human rights experts make ground-breaking statements on privatisation of education in Ghana, Chile and Uganda
- 24/06/2015 UN Committee urges Uganda Government to assume primary responsibility for the provision of quality education for all children instead of privatizing schools
- 27/05/2015 Human Rights Council Side-Event: ‘Human rights policy responses to the growth of private actors in education”
- 22/05/2015 UN human rights body denounces the commercialisation of education in Ghana
- 14/05/2015 Dozens of organisations express deep concerns – World Bank support to privatisation in education
- 14/04/2015 L’ONU s’inquiète de la « privatisation » de l’enseignement au Maroc
- 24/03/2015 UN Committee requests that Chile explain when it will end segregation in education and abandon voucher system
- 10/03/2015 The GI-ESCR discusses the human rights framework on privatisation in education at international conference
- 19/02/2015 International conference on privatisation in education with UN Special Rapporteur – Paris 18th March
- 22/12/2014 UN Committee raises issues on the impact of privatization in education on the realization of the right to education in Uganda
- 04/12/2014 The most segregated education system in the world: new report challenges the consequences of privatisation of education in Chile with the UN, and in Spanish
- 28/11/2014 Civil Society condemns the African Development Bank and other int’l orgs’ support to privatisation in education
- 17/11/2014 Another UN human rights committee expresses concerns about privatisation in education in Ghana
- 23/10/2014 The UN asks Ghana to explain itself on privatisation in education
- 05/09/2014 The UN confirms that education is a “public good” and asks Morocco to explain itself about privatization in education
- 15/07/2014 Privatisation in Education: Advocacy and Research Workshop and Public Events Reports
- 07/07/2014 Report Highlights how Privatization of Education Negatively Impacts Girls in Many Parts of the World
- 27/05/2014 Consultation on the impact of the privatisation in/of education on girls’ right to education
- 05/05/2014 Save the date: Human Rights Council side-event on privatisation and the right to education, 12th June 2014
- 04/03/2014 Moroccan civil society mobilizes following the UN questions on private education and discrimination in Morocco
- 04/02/2014 The UN questions private education in Morocco
- 31//01/2014: Privatization of education in Morocco breaches human rights: new report
For more information, see the following documents:
- The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education highlighting the impact of private education on the right to education is available here: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/68/294
- The website of the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative contains a lot of resources on the topic: www.periglobal.org/
- The website of the Right to Education Project sums up the documents on privatisation in education and the right to education: www.right-to-education.org/issue-page/privatisation-education
- The Global Campaign on Education has launched a webpage on privatisation in education: www.campaignforeducation.org/en/campaigns/privatisation
- The website of Education International, which represents organisations of teachers and other education employees across the globe, and is engaged on privatisation http://www.ei-ie.org/
 See: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/right-to-education/  UN Doc. A/68/294, para. 26.  The Right to Education Project (RTE), ‘Privatisation in Education: Global Trends and Human Rights Impact,’ 2014.