New report explores UK’s role in privatising education globally

A new report from UK civil society organisation Global Justice Now and the National Education Union, the largest education union in Europe, launches today. Education Executive reports.

The report, titled In Whose Interest? The UK’s role in privatising education around the world, lays out the UK Department for International Development’s policies and programmes that are contributing to a privatisation agenda.

In Whose Interest? highlights how Official Development Assistance (ODA) has been supporting privatisation through grants to education businesses, support for pro-private research, and consultancy contracts with UK-based businesses, among other methods. The latter includes the Girls’ Education Challenge, which alone will see a £32.7 million consultancy fee paid to PWC.

In Whose Interest? also illustrates how privatisation is problematic in terms of equality, quality, and accountability in education, and how it is undermining public education systems. Fees, non-inclusive providers who don’t provide for children with additional needs, and unqualified teachers all contribute to a poorer and less equal learning experience for children relying on low-fee private schools.

Other systems, such as the proposed Education Outcomes Fund, could enable profit-making (through interest paid to investors) in education financing.

Both internationally and in England, accountability has been problematised through privatisation of education. In England, academies have found ways to circumvent the Government’s no-profit policy through so-called ‘related-party transactions’, where an academy enters into a commercial relationship with an organisation that is related through common directors or family members.

A total of £134m was paid out by academy trusts on related-party transactions in 2017-18, up from £122m in 2015-16. This is just one of the many issues related to academisation in England that is mirrored in privatising education internationally.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Education is a human right and a public good. The government’s blatant privatisation of education domestically and internationally is commercialising this right and favouring profits over pupils.

“It’s time that the government, including the Department for International Development and the Department for Education, recognises that their ideological push for privatisation isn’t delivering the quality, inclusive, and free education all children and young people deserve.”

Read the full article New report explores UK’s role in privatising education globally

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