‘Private education bad for girls’

2014-07-08 14:21

Section27 has joined 12 other international organisations in condemning the privatisation of education across the world, claiming that the trend has a negative impact on girls.

In a statement released today in Geneva, Switzerland, the organisations argue that the privatisation of education exacerbates gender discrimination and called on governments to ensure the full enjoyment of the right to education for all through a fully accountable public education system.

The statement comes at a time when private schools, low-fee ones in particular, are proliferating across the world – and also in South Africa. Their proponents view them as an answer to poor education offered by governments across the world.

The 13 organisations, all of which are pressure groups in the education space, have submitted a document to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to inform its discussion on girls’ and women’s right to education.

“Our global consultations have highlighted that privatisation in and of education has specific negative consequences for women and girls. The most comprehensive and recent review of the literature on privatisation in education has found that girls are less likely than boys to be enrolled in private schools,” said the organisations in a statement.

Studies, said the statement, have found that: “The proposition that ‘private schools provide real choice for parents including the disadvantaged’ … needs serious qualification. Choice may indeed exist for the relatively affluent and mobilised, but this is counterbalanced by the seeming structural exclusion by private schools of the very poor, girls and marginalised groups. In turn, private schools risk entrenching economic divisions, deepening gender discrimination and institutionalising class inequalities”.

The report says boys are often given priority over girls as the cost of education increases.

“This problem is also further compounded by other issues that emerge within the context of privatisation, such as poor regulation and oversight of private education providers leading to, in some cases, lack of accountability for sexual assault of girls by school teachers, colleagues and administrators.”

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