An important conference is taking place today in the Philippines to combat the privatisation and monetising of education by corporate 'reformers.'
The Philippines has become a textbook example of the infiltration of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) into public education. In an excellent and detailed analysis, commissioned by Education International, researcher Curtis B. Riep lays bare the ideological basis of changes being made to education in the country.
An unholy alliance between the large Philippino corporation Ayala, global education corporation Pearson and the government is syphoning off funds to private providers at the same time as it increases segregation in education. The so-called APEC chain of secondary schools, owned by Ayala and Pearson, charge fees, partly funded by government vouchers, which are still out of reach for the poorest of the poor. Moreover the schools are often situated in rented space above businesses like car rental firms or banks. The teachers are paid poverty wages and are often unqualified. And the curriculum, which is delivered in scripted form, is designed with the burgeoning position of the Philippines as a repository for cheap labour firmly in mind.
The Philippino teaching union, ACT, is not only fighting low pay and dreadful violence, it is also leading the struggle against corporate education reform. The ACT chairperson tweeted from today's conference, which has been co-organised with Education International: 'Teachers of the world, let us unite! Unite against neoliberal attacks on education! Down with imperialism!'
Teachersolidarity enthusiastically seconds this call. In both the global South and the North we are facing the same struggle against corporations who want to destroy public education, leech it for profit and turn schools into training grounds for the sort of uncritical and 'flexible' workers which capital needs. We applaud the determination of the ACT in their defence of public education.