Education Should be a Public Good, Not Profit-Making Business, says UN Report

Within his annual report to the United Nations General Assembly Kishore Singh emphasises that education needs to be preserved as a public good because it creates important civic and social benefits for society as a whole.

Publication Date:
Mon, 27/10/2014 - 17:51
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The Privatization in Education Research Initiative (PERI) today welcomed the assessment of UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education Mr. Kishore Singh that education needs to be preserved as a public good and not be reduced to a profit-making business, set out in his annual report to the United Nations General Assembly.

“Everyone deserves a good education, not just the education they can afford to pay for,” commented Ian Macpherson, of PERI. “The private sector can play a positive role but unchecked privatization in education is leading to the further deterioration of state education and the poorest and most vulnerable people being relegated to low performing state schools, increasing inequality and deepening cycles of poverty and exclusion.”

Mr. Singh’s intervention comes at a time when privatization of education is on the rise globally and the economic crisis has caused many states to make significant cuts to essential services including education, allowing private providers to step in. In countries like India and Ghana, low fee private schools are on the rise, forcing low-income families with already scarce resources into difficult decisions such as choosing between educating a child or feeding a family. Evidence shows that families most often send boys over girls to private providers and educate fewer children within the family. The UN report argues that given recent dramatic growth in private education it may soon supplant, not supplement, public education.

The report also states:
• Access to private school based on the capacity to pay fees contravenes the human rights principles of equality of opportunity in education.
• Governments and civil society must critically examine the repercussions of privatization in education if we are to prevent the destruction of the universality of the right to education.
• Governments must put an end to market-driven education reforms such as providing subsidies to private education, and instead provide the maximum possible resources to public education.
• Governments must establish and maintain a transparent and effective system to monitor and regulate private education providers.

“This UN report is welcome at this critical moment in the debate on the future of education as a public good for all” commented Ian Macpherson. “It’s essential to stop viewing learners as consumers and education as a consumer good. This report provides the basis for a more credible and informed debate.” PERI analyses the costs of privatization on social justice; PERI research is cited in Mr Kishore Singh’s report to the UN.

1. The report by of UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education Mr Kishore Singh can be accessed here http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/69/documentslist.shtml or downloaded via the link below.
2. A Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme.