Civil society drives France to stand against the commercialization of education

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Following advocacy efforts around the Call of the Francophone civil society against the commercialization of education, France took a stand against the commercialization of education stating they “will act against any attempts at commercialization of education” in international cooperation. Jean-Marie le Guen, the French Minister for development aid, made the declaration and stated that France considers education as a public service that cannot be traded.

Classroom in France

France’s statement illustrates the efficacy of civil society’s advocacy around the Call. Initiated by six organizations, including ESCR-Net members the Right to Education Project and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Call was presented by more than 300 civil society organizations from 38 countries. It followed a declaration by 57 francophone heads of state and governments raising concerns over the commercialization of education and reaffirming the commitment to quality public education.

The Call urged States to put in place quality public education systems free of charge, regulate private education, and eliminate commercial educational establishments. It also called upon the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) to collaborate with civil society to promote institutional mechanisms to regulate private actors in education.

This unambiguous announcement by France signals its potential as an international actor promoting public education, amidst the worldwide privatization and commercialization of primary and secondary education. This position also opposes countries like the United Kingdom, whose development cooperation aid supports the development of private schools.