UK Unions, Advocates Call for End to Privatizing Ed in Africa, Asia


International organizations say the UK government might be violating the human right to education by increasingly funding for-profit schools in Asia and Africa.

The campaigners, which include British teacher unions and organizations like ActionAid, have submitted their report to two United Nations human rights committees arguing the practice should be stopped because it jeopardizes public free education.

ActionAid International, Global Justice Now and the Right to Education Project along with teacher unions in the UK, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda say UK funding to for-profit schools in Asia and Africa is benefiting the privatization of education and makes the human right to education impossible for poor families, minorities and girls.

The full report, which evaluates the legal status of the practice, and questions the UK’s responsibilities with regard to its human right obligations, is available at the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights website.

In their report, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the University and College Union (UCU), among others, say that high private school tuition fees exclude poor families from accessing education. At the same time, it is often the case that students at low-fee schools have unqualified teachers with poor or insufficient training, reports.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt talked of the injustice of funneling British government money into the activities of multinational corporations. She added in her remarks supporting the campaigners that submitted the report to the UN:

“There is clear evidence these schools are not accessible to the poorest in the population and to certain groups such as girls, and that they do not guarantee high-quality education.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said that the extent to which for-profit education in Asia and Africa is promoted and supported puts free, quality public education at risk. She said, according to, that:

“Up until now we had anecdotal evidence but now we have research evidence, which shows the scale of the problem. This needs to stop.”

According to Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now, the UK is pushing for education privatization in Africa and Asia, a practice it hopes to adopt in the UK as well. As he notes:

“[The UK government] treat[s] these continents as guinea pigs for a model which is also being increasingly pushed here – running education for profit rather than need. It’s shocking that the aid budget is being used to fuel the profits of education multinationals,” published.

In their report, the campaigners say that apart from making education inaccessible to poor families, the practice contravenes with countries’ responsibility to offer free primary education. They say the practice boosts discrimination first against students from poor backgrounds and against minorities and girls who are less likely to have access to private education, the Economic Voice says.