Leicester District
National Education Union

Jessica Edmonds, Leicester NEU Assistant Secretary, 22nd May 2019

Conference 2019: For the Global Good? Putting the Public Back in Education

During NEU National Conference over Easter, I attended a session about the increasing commercialisation and privatisation of education. Speakers were from a range of backgrounds, with a range of different experiences, but all spoke passionately about education being a human and civil right and a force for good.

We can already see increasing privatisation in the UK, with large multi-academy trusts taking over schools - CEOs and CFOs earning huge salaries, driving expensive company cars, and claiming large expenses - all at a cost to children's education. Why is public money being used in this way? Surely it should be spent on educating our children? Globally, the market for education is worth £5 trillion, and with 262 million children without access to education, the argument put forward by private companies is that there isn't enough public money to fund it. Obviously, this isn't the only answer, as evidenced by public/private partnerships in Pakistan and Uganda not meeting their stated aims, often only providing education in urban areas, and not meeting the needs of disabled children. 'Out of the box' schools are common, with scripts delivered by unqualified teachers. It's a scalable model, but one that doesn't deliver rich learning to equip today's children to be tomorrow's leaders.

How can we challenge this? We need to look at how our government aid money is spent. Often it goes directly to private companies to fund school places in private schools. The model is market driven, not challenging widespread tax evasion which could create more money. The Department for International Development (DIfD) spends our tax money, and we have the power to say "Not in our name". Education needs to be linked to aid, development and health to truly create change.

Find out more, and read the full report.


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