The privatisation of education is a growing and complex issue.

Privatisation is a process, which can be defined as the 'transfer of assets, management, functions or responsibilities [relating to education] previously owned or carried out by the state to private actors' (Coomans & Hallo de Wolf, ‘Privatisation of Education and the Right to Education’ in de Feyter & Gomez (eds.), Privatisation and Human Rights in the Age of Globalisation, 2005).

Private actors may include companies, religious institutions, or non-governmental organisations. There are many different ways in which privatisation can occur, through for example, the development of public private partnerships. Additionally, the unmonitored and unregulated expansion of private sector provision of education, such as for profit schools or low fee private schools, may have a privatising effect if students have no other choice of school.