Private sector creates unequal education system - report

2014-11-30 18:40

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Johannesburg - Private sector involvement in education in Africa creates inequalities amongst pupils, according to a report released by several international civil society organisations.

"Privatisation policies increase inequality in access, do not guarantee quality and undermine the notion of education as a public good," the organisations said in a joint statement.

"Increased private sector participation in education is a strong driver of segregation and inequalities of opportunities."

The report, which focuses on the progress made in regards to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa, was compiled the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union Commission (AUC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It was released at the Education Forum of the World Human Rights Forum in Marrakech, Morocco on Friday and has received support from more than 60 organisations, particularly national education coalitions in Africa.

Many South African organisations, including legal advocacy group Section 27, Education Coalition of South Africa (ECSA), Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) and Equal Education, had endorsed the report.

"The report is significant as it will shape the debate for the next international development framework after the MDGs end in 2015," the organisations said.

The negative impact that the private sector has on education in Africa, as revealed in the report, were echoed by several organisations around the world.

Researcher at the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights said privatisation in education leads to violations of international human rights law.

"We have done research on privatisation in education occurring in Ghana, Morocco, Uganda, Chile, and Kenya, and found violations of the international law, in particular with regards to the right to education, the right to non-discrimination, government's obligation to provide free quality education, and government's failures to regulate and monitor private schools."

Although other reports may justify a call for increased private sector participation in education in terms of improved quality, evidence does not support this position, said Fred van Leeuwen, general secretary of Education International.

"Adequate teachers qualifications, training and decent working conditions are crucial factors in ensuring quality education," he said in a statement.

"However, in many countries, private schools employ unqualified and insufficiently trained teachers."

The organisations called for education to be protected against marketisation and commodification.

"Profit making in education is unacceptable, especially where taking advantage of the aspirations for a better life, of the poorest parents," said Caroline Pearce of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE).

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