This booklet brings together educators from different countries to examine the negative effects of privatisation on the right to education, education quality, equity, and teaching. Building upon specific examples from the US, Canada, Chile and South Africa, it makes the argument that privatisation increases inequality and stratification in education, and substitutes good public policy with the vagaries of charity or the single-mindedness of profit-making.
From humble beginnings in the early 1990s, charter schools have grown explosively to become a pillar in a market-oriented national education reform in the United States. The fiscal fallout from the financial crisis of 2007-08 constricted educational budgets and intensified the public debate around directing resources to all aspects of educational reform, especially charter schools.
The human right to education is well established in a variety of international treaties and covenants, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right establishes the obligation of states to provide all young people with a quality education, as defined by the prevailing social and economic context of each country. Guidance provided by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, focuses attention on the acceptability, availability, adaptability and accessibility of education in every context.
The impact of charter school expansion on the ability of U.S. states to implement the right to education for all children has, to date, been little considered in the national debate around education reform. Given the diversity of the legal foundations of charter schools in the states, it is difficult to carry out such an analysis at the national level.
Despite the fact that its public education system is rated among the most effective in the country, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been the site of large-scale implementation of the charter school model. Prominent educational research institutes have analyzed Massachusetts charters and found them - especially the schools located in Boston - to be among the most successful in the country.
The experience of Massachusetts charter schools undoubtedly includes positive effects on the implementation of the right to education. A significant number of students who had difficulty accessing quality education in traditional public schools have been able to do so in charter schools. Many of those students are from racial or ethnic groups that have faced historic discrimination in U.S. public schools. In addition, charter schools are, by their nature, adaptations of the public education model and, therefore, increase the adaptability of the system.
At the same time, other aspects of the charter school model raise concerns from a human rights perspective, some of them serious concerns. The extreme school discipline models employed by some charters and the increased use of disciplinary exclusion to maintain social order in the schools both raise human rights concerns that go well beyond the right to education. Also, the existence of an “enrollment gap” between charter schools and traditional public schools, especially in relation to the enrollment of Students with Special Needs and English Language Learners is the source of further concern. Finally, the way in which charter schools are financed, in Massachusetts and in most other jurisdictions, gradually degrades the financial capacity of public school districts. This loss of financial capacity often leads to mass school closings or other major disruptions to the system. In districts with high charter density, this process can reach the point where the capacity of the district to provide for even the basic educational needs of all students comes into question.
Massachusetts and other states with relatively high charter density in urban centers should reinforce regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure the accountability of existing charter schools to legal and regulatory frameworks. In addition, legislative bodies considering laws to allow further expansion of charter schools should carefully consider the impacts of charter school growth on the human right to education of all children in their jurisdiction before enabling such expansion.
Written by John Ruggie, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, these Guiding Principles are designed to provide for the first time a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity. The Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles in its resolution 17/4 of 16 June 2011.
In February 2013, the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted General Comment 16 on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children's rights, to which countries will be held accountable for ensuring that children's rights are protected in business activities.
Paragraphs regarding education:16, 19, 21, 30, 33, 35, 37, 56, 61(a), 68, 77 & 82.
Oral statement made by the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 8 June 2015, following a report submitted by GI-ESCR with the Sciences Po Law School Clinic and with the support of eight national, regional and international NGOs working on the right to education in Chile.
In this statement, GI-ESCR raises concerns with regards to the impact of the privatised education system in Chile on the rights protected under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
David Archer, ActionAid, on the challenges of privatisation and the importance of greater public investment in education, through fair and just tax policies.
With Portuguese subtitles.
In Asia, private supplementary tutoring consumes huge amounts of household finance, and has far-reaching implications for social inequalities, let alone the huge implications it has for school education services. Yet few governments have satisfactory regulations for the phenomenon.
The book Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good: Policy Options for Supplementary Education in Asia focuses on the extensive scale of private tutoring in countries of the region, regardless of their development status. The work shows wide diversity in the regulations introduced by governments in the Asian region. It notes not only that these governments can learn much from each other, but also that policy makers in other parts of the world can usefully look at patterns in Asia. The book also stresses the value of partnerships between governments, tutoring providers, schools, teachers’ unions, and other bodies.
The Right to Education Project, with the support of international and British organisations as well as teachers' unions have submitted a report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child about the UK's support of the growth of private actors in education through its development aid: questioning its responsibilities as regards its human rights extra-territorial obligations.
The report raises concern about the increased use of British aid money to support for-profit schools, in particular so-called ‘low-fee’ private schools, which are fuelling inequality, creating segregation and undermining the right to education.
The report finds that the UK’s policies in support of private education through its development aid are problematic and that the country could be violating its extra-territorial obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in two regards:
- Firstly, the UK’s support for for-profit, fee-charging private schools that do not reach the poorest is questioned in light of the UK’s obligations to fulfil the right to education, including the right to free quality education without discrimination;
- Secondly, the UK’s responsibility is questioned in particular in relation to its own impact assessments that have been conducted on its policies of providing support to private schools and which have concluded that projects supporting private education providers are less likely to target the most marginalised, and that more research needs to be carried out on the impact of private schools in developing countries on, among other elements, the efficiency of “low-fee” private schools.
This present document, produced by the Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education (Brazilian Campaign) and the NGO Ação Educativa, aims to present a brief overview of the ongoing privatization processes in education in Brazil and its negative impacts on the achievement of the human right to education of children and adolescents, as a contribution to the II Alternative Report on the Situation of the Rights of the Child in Brazil organized by the National Association of Centers for the Defense of Child Rights (Associação Nacional dos Centros de Defesa da Criança e do Adolescente - Anced).