A day of reflection on privatisation of education was organised jointly by the Sciences Po Law School Clinic, the Global Initiative for Economic and Social Rights and the Right to Education Project on 18th March at Sciences Po.
Students of the Sciences Po Clinic and the two NGOs have been working together since September 2014 on the impact of privatization of education on the right to education. Their work focused on two countries, Chile and Nepal, where the phenomenon of privatisation had gained importance.
During the last few years, the number of children attending private primary and secondary schools has dramatically increased in a number of countries, especially in developing ones. Private schools are diverse, but many of the recently created schools are profit-making, including ‘low-fee’ schools targeting relatively poor people and charging fees for the promise of ‘quality’ education.
An active market has emerged where private schools compete with each other and with public schools. This growth of private education raises a number of questions for the realisation of the right to education and human rights in general. While the human rights framework protects the freedom of parents to choose the school and education they wish for their children, it also requires that every child has access to free, quality, primary and secondary education, without discrimination, and that States play an active role in the education system.
In this context, the events organised at Sciences Po provided an opportunity to discuss the implications of the situation and possible solutions, as well as to draw the attention of the academic world and the wider public to the issue.
At a closed roundtable, French and international experts in education discussed different aspects of the topic, such as the notion of social justice in education, the role of private actors in education and the regulation of private schools. The objective of the roundtable was to determine the underlying questions and issues related to the phenomenon of privatisation in education and to agree on a set of international standards which should apply to private schools. Participants agreed to meet again in a few months in order to discuss a proposal for such common standards.
The day of reflection was concluded by the public conference ‘Privatisation of education: the new human rights challenge of developing countries?’, with a keynote speech delivered by Kishore Singh, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education. Students of the Sciences Po Law School Clinic presented their research on Nepal and Chile; and Olivier De Schutter, member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights shared its reflections on the topic.
Ysé El Bouhali-Bouchet is a Master's candidate at the Sciences Po Paris Law School in Global Governance Studies, member of the Right to education project of the HEDG Clinic of the Law School. Previously studied Economic law and political science at Sciences Po Paris, and at La Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, Peru. Former legal intern at Clifford Chance law firm and at the French Conseil d’État.
Dora Tamas is a Master's candidate at the Sciences Po Paris Law School in Global Governance Studies, member of the Right to education project of the HEDG Clinic of the Law School. Previously studied European affairs and political science at Sciences Po Paris, European Campus of Dijon and at King's College London. Former trainee at the European Commission and at CMS Bureau Francis Lefevbre.