This article explores the increasing privatisation of education. It examines various criticisms of the private provision of education and claims that privatisation is driven by an ideological agenda which is generally uncaring about any notion of the “public good” purposes of education — that is, of its role in producing social cohesion through the provision of education that is of high quality for all members of society.

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.

RESULTS Educational Fund’s report “From Free to Fee”, investigates World Bank’s basic education investments through its private lending arm (the IFC). The report seeks to explore if IFC investments in education reach the poorest groups and help reduce extreme poverty. From Free to Fee provides evidence from IFC funded schools in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa, and presents recommendations for the World Bank, the IFC, and other investors on how to more effectively end poverty through basic education.  

In this decision, the Constitutional Court of South Africa held that an eviction order obtained by an owner of private land on which a public school was located could not be enforced where it would impact students’ right to basic education and the best interests of the child under the South African Constitution (sections 28 and 29). The Court held that a private landowner and non-sate actor has a constitutional obligation not to impair the right to basic education under section 29 of the Constitution. The Court also held that, unlike other socio-economic rights protected by the Constitution, the right to basic education is immediately realisable and any limitation of this right must be 'reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom'.