Civil Society condemns the African Development Bank and other int’l orgs’ support to privatisation in education

Marrakesh statement on privatisation in education in Africa

French version here

Marrakech, 28th November 2014

In a joint statement released today in Marrakech at the Education Forum of the World Human Rights Forum, international civil society organisations have raised serious concerns about the emphasis on private sector involvement in education in Africa in a recent report of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union Commission (AUC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report focuses progress with regards to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. The report is significant as it will shape the debate for the next international development framework after the MDGs end in 2015.

The statement received an overwhelming support of more than 60 organisations, particularly national education coalitions in Africa. This reflects the importance of this issue in Africa and across the world.

The Statement highlights that privatisation policies increase inequality in access, do not guarantee quality and undermine the notion of education as a public good. It calls for the withdrawal of the MDG Report 2014: Assessing Progress in Africa Toward the Millennium Development Goals, so as to reconsider the recommendations in support of privatisation in education and make recommendations which are consistent with the human right to education

Mr Limbani Nsapato of the African Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA), one of the organisations leading the Statement said “We are very disturbed by this report’s recommendations for greater private sector involvement in education provision, as they ignore the growing evidence that privatisation in education creates inequality and leads to segregation, as we are seeing now in Ghana.”

Despite recognising that the two education policies have been particularly effective in expanding educational access and participation – the elimination of fees and long-term State investments in education – the report’s calls for an increased role for private actors would take education in Africa in the opposite direction, and risk undermining achievements in increased access”, said Mr David Archer, of ActionAid.

Ms Caroline Pearce of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) commented “We know that school fees and other education costs are a major barrier to access to education. Most of the dramatic increases in primary school enrolment in Africa since 2000, in particular girls’ enrolments, came about after the elimination of fees. Yet this report promotes further privatisation which invariably entails fee-paying schools.

As the MDG Report 2014 acknowledges, many African countries are “still facing schooling gaps between the poorest and the richest households”. The African Union, through the Second Decade of Education (2006-2015) plan of action, reiterated the need to ensure equity. These principles are also strongly protected under international law.

However, increased private sector participation in education is a strong driver of segregation and inequalities of opportunities. As the UN Special Rapporteur on the right education recently put it, privatisation “flies in the face of prohibited grounds of discrimination based, notably, on ‘social origin’, ‘economic condition’, ‘birth’ or ‘property’ in international human rights conventions”.

The civil society Statement also warns that privatisation in education leads to violations of international human rights law. Mr Sylvain Aubry of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said “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 governments’ failures to regulation and monitor private schools”.

The Rapport OMD 2014 justifies a call for increased private sector participation in education on the grounds that it could help improve quality. Yet the evidence does not support this position. Mr Fred van Leeuwen of Education International commented “Adequate teachers’ qualifications, training and decent working conditions are crucial factors in ensuring quality education. However, in many countries, private schools employ unqualified and insufficiently trained teachers. In Ghana, for example, only 9.2% of primary level teachers are trained in the private sector compared to 69.4% in public schools.”

The quality of private education is also problematic in Morocco, where the World Human Rights Forum is hosted. Mr Ahmed Sehouate of the Moroccan Coalition on Educaiton for All said “in Morocco private investments in education do not equate to investments in quality. After almost 15 years of a rapid increase in private investment in education, private schools have failed to train any teachers, but rely extensively on teachers from the public sector, thereby weakening it”.

It is clear under international law that education is a public good, which must thus be protected against marketisation and commodification. States emphasised a few months ago in the so-called Muscat agreement, “through governments, the state is the custodian of quality education as a public good”. In spite of this, the MDG Report 2014 explicitly calls for a commercialisation of the education sector that “is conducive to profitable returns on investment” for education investors. Ms Pearce of GCE emphasised “Profit making in education is unacceptable, especially where taking advantage of the aspirations for a better life, of the poorest parents.”


The full statement is available on

The MDG Report 2014: Assessing Progress in Africa Toward the Millennium Development Goals report is available on

The last report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education is available on

The research on the impact of privatisation on the right to education is available on

Signatory organisations

Submitted by the African Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA), Education International (EI) ActionAid, and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR).

This statement has also been endorsed by the following organisations:

  1. African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)
  2. Alliance2015
  3. Alphabétisation et Développement (Alpha Dev)
  4. Arab Campaign for Education for All (ACEA)
  5. Argentinian Campaign for the Right to Education (CADE
  6. Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE)
  7. ASO-EPT Niger
  8. Association Nationale pour l’Alphébétisation, Senegal (ANAFA)
  9. ATTAC/CADTM Maroc
  10. Basic Education Network Ethiopia
  11. Botswana Coalition on Education For All (BOCEFA)
  12. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development organisation (BIRUDO)
  13. Burundi Coalition for Education For All
  14. Cameroon Education for All Network (CEFAN)
  15. Carrefour de la famille marocaine
  16. Centre du Commerce International pour le Développement, CECIDE, Guinée (CECIDE)
  17. Centre for Education Rights and Transformation
  18. Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS)
  19. Centre national de coopération au développement, CNCD-11.11.11, Belgium
  20. Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All
  21. Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA)
  22. Civil Society Education Coalition, Malawi (CSEC),
  23. Coalition des Organisations en Synergie pour la Défense de l’Education Publique, Senegal (COSYDEP)
  24. Coalition des organisations Mauritaniennes pour l’Education (COMEDUC)
  25. Coalition Marocaine pour l’Education Pour tous (CMEPT)
  26. Coalition National EPT-Burkina-Faso
  27. Coalition Pour l’Education Pour Tous Bafashebique, Burundi
  28. Collectif National de l’Education Alternative et Populaire, Senegal (CNEAP)
  29. Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy (COPDA) – Liberia
  30. Confédération des syndicats autonomes, Senegal (CSA)
  31. Conseil Régional des Organisations Non Gouvernementales de Développement
  32. Consulenti, orientatori, formatori in rete, Italia (Cofir)
  33. Education Coalition of South Africa, South Africa(ECSA)
  34. Education For All Network, The Gambia
  35. Equal Education Law Centre, South Africa (EELC)
  36. EqualEducation, South Africa
  37. Fédération Nationale des Associations de Parents d’Elèves au Maroc (FNAPEM)
  38. Fédération Nationale des Associations de Parents d’Eleves et d’Edudiants, Senegal (FENAPES)
  39. Forum for Education NGO’s in Uganda (FENU)
  40. Foundation For Environmental Right, Advocacy & Development, Nigeria (FENRAD)
  41. Foundation for the Conservation of the Earth (FOCONE)
  42. Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC)
  43. Global Campaign for Education (GCE)
  44. Global Network for Good Governance(GNGG Cameroon)
  45. Global Rights, Nigeria
  46. Groupe Pivot Education de Base, Mali
  47. IBIS
  48. Inclusive Development a International
  49. Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER)
  50. Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya
  51. Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID)
  52. Lumière Synergie pour le Développement
  53. Maison des Mines du Kivu (MMKi)
  54. Mouvement Anfass Démocratique, Morocco
  55. Organisation Démocratique de l’Enseignement, Morocco (ODT)
  56. Oxfam GB
  57. Oxfam International
  58. Pan African Development Education & Advocacy Programme
  59. Peace Point Action (PPA)
  61. Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI)
  62. Public Interest Law Center, Chad (PILC)
  64. Right to Education Forum, India
  65. Right to Education Project (RTE)
  66. Section27, South Africa
  67. Syndicat Unique et Démocratique du Sénégal (SUDES)
  68. Tanzania Education Network/Mtandao wa Elimu Tanzania (TEN/MET)
  69. Wacam, Ghana
  70. Zambia National Education Coalition

Categories Press Releases, Right to education | Tags: | Posted on November 28, 2014

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