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Addressing international support to privatisation in education


World Bank

African Development Bank and partners

UK’s Department for International Development

The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its partners are monitoring the way international actors and donors are using their funds and influence on education, and in particular when they support private education if there is a risk that it impairs the realisation of the right to education. States and international organisations indeed have an obligation to not negatively affect human rights, including the right to education, in third countries. These are called extra-territorial obligations (ETOs). More information on ETOs here.

This page covers specifically the case of donor funding to private education in developing countries. For more information about our work on privatisation in education in other areas, see http://bit.ly/educprivat.

World Bank

On 14th May 2015, 119 organisations released a statement and a letter they had sent to the World Bank to raise their deep concerns abut the World Bank’s support to private, for-profit, private school chain “Bridge International Academies” instead of public education. See the statement on http://bit.ly/WBprivatisation

African Development Bank and partners

Marrakech statement

In November 2014, we worked with ANCEFA and other partners to put together a statement reacting to a report from the African Development Bank and other international organisations calling for support to privatisation in education in Africa. The statement, which was endorsed in just two days by 70 African and international organisations was launched during the World Human Rights Forum in Marrakech on 28th November – the Marrakesh statement. The statement is available in English, and in French, and was accompanied by a press release in English, and French.

UK’s Department for International Development

In April 2016, we worked with The Right to Education Project and other partners to submit an alternative report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and another to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), highlighting concerns on the UK’s Department for International Development’s funding of for-profit low fee private schools.

The CRC expressed concerns about DFID’s “funding of low-fee, private and informal schools run by for-profit business enterprises” as it could have been contributing to the violation of children’s rights in recipient countries. The Committee recommended that the UK “refrain from funding for-profit private schools” and “prioritise free and quality primary education in public schools.” Reiterating these concerns the CESCR questioned the UK’s support for low-cost private schools in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, India and Pakistan.

Key Documents

  • Press release: The UN says UK development aid to commercial private schools could violate children’s rights: http://bit.ly/UKcrc
  • Press release: UK financial support to low-cost private education in developing countries in contravention of human rights, say again UN experts: http://bit.ly/29lhdPj 

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