New report examines activities of 'philanthropic edu-business'

By agency reporter
March 26, 2019

A report from Education International (EI), the global education union confederation, examines the activities of organisations involved in promoting the commercialisation, marketisation and privatisation of education systems around the world.

The report examines the rationale and modus operandi of philanthropic edu-business. The second part focuses on the global activities of UK registered Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), an academy sponsor which runs 38 schools in Birmingham, Hastings, London and Portsmouth. It analyses Ark’s roles and activities in education systems globally including through the direct provision of education, curriculum development, teacher training, enabling the development of education markets, network building and advocacy, school accountability and more.

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This important report makes clear that the commercialisation, marketisation and privatisation of education is a global ambition. Ark has been a leading proponent of privatisation in and of education in England through its academy programme, maths mastery curriculum and teacher training initiatives. This report sheds important light on Ark’s involvement in edu-business on a global scale.

“Education is a multi-billion-pound business opportunity for those who seek to turn a profit.  Privateers, hiding beneath the cloak of philanthropy, are a serious threat to the EI’s goal of achieving free quality public education for all across the world.

“The NEU and its sister unions in EI understand the importance of education for the public good and we will continue to work together to defend the rights of all children to a high-quality education, free at the point of use, and untarnished by corporate greed.”

General Secretary of Education International, David Edwards, said:  “Of great concern is the uncritical approach to some policy initiatives and programmes that are being presented by Ark as models to be exported. The academy school model promoted by Ark is not without controversy or scandal in the UK. It is crucial for organisations  exporting such policies to deal with criticisms they generate domestically before embarking on moving them abroad.”

Mr Christian Addai-Poku, President of Education International African Regional Committee stated: “These organisations do not come to Africa for altruistic purposes. With little regard for both local contexts and stakeholders, they seek to impose privatisation agendas by bringing considerable financial and ‘political’ influence to bear upon governments in Africa.”

* Read In sheep's clothingphilanthropy and the privatisation of the so-called ‘democratic state’ here

* Education International

* National Education Union


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