NEU expresses 'serious concerns' over government's International Education Strategy

By agency reporter
March 21, 2019

The National Education Union has expressed serious concerns about the Government’s newly released International Education Strategy: global potential, global growth.

The strategy was created without the consultation of many unions, including the NEU. The union says the strategy highlights the UK’s ambition “to increase education exports to £35 billion by 2030” without appropriate consideration for the negative consequences this may have on public education systems.

It is well-established that privatisation of education undermines public education systems and operates at the expense of inclusivity, affordability, transparency and quality education.

The strategy further supports UK exports as a form of “soft power”, disregarding a rights-based approach to education in favour of an instrumental approach that benefits the UK. Engaged in this practice is the FCO, DIT, DFID and BEIS, which “all play important front-line roles in facilitating market access, shaping international agendas and opening opportunities for UK trade, influence, relationships and partnerships.” The importance of a holistic, inclusive and rights-based delivery of education is lost in this “whole-of-government” approach.

The NEU is further concerned about the changing nature of aid. The OECD defines it as "administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective." The UK’s position, reaffirmed in this strategy, suggests a favouring of economic and cultural influence over a human rights approach.

Commenting on the strategy, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Education is a human right and a public good, one that is the ultimate responsibility of governments. This strategy illustrates the determination of the UK Government to marketise education, focusing on profits over pupils. It is deeply troubling to see our Government’s determination to view the rights of children and young people around the world as a money-making opportunity.”

International Education Strategy: global potential, global growth was released by the Department for Education and the Department for International Trade, with a joint foreword from the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for International Trade.

* Read International Education Strategy: global potential, global growth here

* National Education Union


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