What Educators Need to Know About Global Trade Deals

By Susan L. Robertson, Joanna Tidy and Santiago Ayuso Arcas (2017)

Educators don’t normally have ‘trade negotiations’ on their radar as something that they must be informed about. Yet education is a sector now included in a raft of trade and investment negotiations and agreements either underway or recently concluded and awaiting ratification.

This report explore the economic, political and social conditions, development agendas, combinations of actors, and regulatory instruments, which together have challenged the idea of, and conditions for, education as a public service and a human right by locking in a market and profit-based framing of education in trade deals. 

How and why has this state of affairs emerged? How and why has education, as an entitlement and human right, been reframed as ‘an education services sector’? What part is government playing in opening up education to private sector interests and for-profit companies, and enabling it to be part of trade deals? And, finally, what are the implications of this market/trade framing for democratic education and sustainable futures?

This study shows that global trade deals matter to educators in that the overall purpose of these negotiations is to reframe education and treat it as a tradeable services sector open to investors; and introduce new regulatory frameworks and mechanisms to ensure that education not only continues rapidly down the path of further market liberalisation, but that the interests of the investors are protected by limiting government’s policy-making spaces. 

Download PDF: EN - SP

Watch the video of the webinar by S. Robertson: 1) Overview of why it is important for educators and trade unions to be informed about free trade agreements; 2) Update on the state of play of the main trade deals; 3) 10 reasons to reject free trade agreements; 4) Questions & Answers.


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