Webinar series: equity, privatization, and the right to education

18 January 2021

As governments face growing pressure to ensure educational equity, the global phenomenon of privatization needs greater attention. What are the different approaches and where does privatization fit into the broader discussion of education as a human right? A new webinar series will examine the origins, spread, and outcomes of private sector involvement in education with Frank Adamson, Assistant Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Sacramento (USA). 

Starting weekly on Wednesday 17 February 2021, three webinars will cover key concepts related to privatization. For the fourth and final webinar, participants will be able to attend a discussion on how states can deal with some of the issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the role of teachers, the challenges of distance education, and the influence of the private sector in technology. All of these webinars are open to all and broadcast live.

When: 17 and 24 February and 3 and 10 March 2021

Time: 3-4pm UTC (see in your time zone)

Where: Online (link will be provided ahead of the event to all registered participants) 

Language: English and with interpretation into French, Spanish and Portuguese


Webinar on 17 February 2021: Introduction to the privatization of education: forms and diffusion

The privatization of education occurs through a variety of forms worldwide. This webinar will use research to define the phenomenon of education privatization and offers a brief historical perspective on its emergence. It will identify the overlapping commonalties across different forms of privatization, including management (who runs schools?), funding (who receives funds to run schools?), and ownership (who owns the properties and other assets of schools?). A global “heat map” of education privatization will also be presented. Finally, the discussion will address differences in the saturation of privatization within and across countries.

Watch the video of the webinar

Webinar on 24 February 2021: Comparing approaches: lessons from different education systems 

This webinar will examine the evidence on how different approaches to education, such as privatization and public investment, function in different locations, with evidence from different countries and regions in the world. The webinar will use the lens of education equity to evaluate these different education approaches. Often, evaluations consider narrower measures such as test scores and attainment. However, this webinar will include newer research that considers the equity dimensions of access and quality. Dr. Antoni Verger will join as a special guest.

Watch the video of the webinar: in English, en français, en español, em português

Webinar on 3 March 2021: Moving forward: delivering on education as a human right  

This webinar will address the issues of education privatization within the broader framework of states' obligations in education and respect for human rights - and more specifically, in the context of the Abidjan Principles adopted in 2019. Finally, it will situate the Abidjan Principles, equity, and privatization of education in the context of the fourth UN Sustainable Development Goal and the efforts made by States to achieve this goal. Ashina Mtsumi, Human Rights Advocate, will join as a special guest. 

Watch the video of the webinar: in English, en français, en español, em português

Webinar on 10 March 2021: Final discussion and key conclusions 

Many experts agree on the need to improve education. However, approaches vary considerably, both in terms of the role of the state and markets and the empirical basis. This final discussion will explore these different perspectives. Camilla Crosso, director of Education programs at the Open Society Foundations, will join to discuss the right to early childhood and higher education.

Watch the video of the webinar: in English, en français, en español, em português

Meet the speakers

Frank Adamson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies, California State University – Sacramento

Dr. Adamson studies how different political and economic approaches to education relate to student experiences and opportunity in schools and communities. His latest research examines international and U.S. saturation levels of education privatization and their implications for education equity. Adamson’s volume Global Education Reform compares the approaches of privatization and public investment to education policy in six countries. His latest volume, Realizing the Abidjan Principles on the Right to Education: Human Rights, Public Education, and the Role of Private Actors in Education is slated for release in June 2021. 

Camilla Croso, Director of the Education Program, Open Society Foundations

Camilla Croso has worked in promoting the right to education at national, regional, and global levels for over twenty years. Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, she coordinated the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) and served as the President of the Global Campaign for Education between 2010 and 2018. In her earlier years, she worked for the Brazilian non governmental organization Ação Educativa and for the Kellogg Foundation’s regional Latin American office in São Paulo. Her academic publications relate especially to education financing, non-discrimination, the right to education and the right to social participation and democratic governance. She integrated both the regional and global Sustainable Development Goal 4/Education 2030 Steering Committees, as well as the Board of the Global Partnership for Education, having played an active role in SDG4 negotiations and final approval.

Antoni Verger, associate professor at the Department of Sociology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)

Antoni Verger's research focuses on the study of the relationship between global governance institutions and education policy – i.e. how education policies are internationally disseminated and enacted in concrete institutional settings, and what effects this has on education quality and equity. In recent years, he has specialized in the study of public-private partnerships and accountability policies in education. With a cross-disciplinary training in sociology and education studies, Dr. Verger publishes in comparative education, education policy, sociology and development studies journals. He is one of the lead editors of the World Yearbook of Education and the Journal of Education Policy and, regarding teaching, is the Deputy General of Education Policies for Global Development – GLOBED, a European master programme that is offered by UAB together with other European universities.

Read more:

How and why policy design matters: understanding the diverging effects of public-private partnerships in education

The Privatization of Education: A Political Economy of Global Education Reform

Ashina Mtsumi, Human Rights Advocate

Ashina is a human rights advocate who worked with the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as part of the Secretariat of the Abidjan Principles, supporting their development, roll out and implementation. Ashina has carried out research and advocacy for the elaboration of human rights principles in the organisation and governance of services essential for the realisation of the rights to education, health, and water and sanitation.
Ashina is currently pursuing an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa.