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Education unions concerned about European privatisation

Market-led models are putting pressure on working conditions, trade union association says

The European Trade Union Committee for Education, an association of education trade unions, has raised concerns about the effects of privatisation on the working conditions and autonomy of teachers.

In an 8 April summary of a recent conference, Etuce cited findings from a research project that looked at the effects of privatisation in the education systems of Belgium, Italy, Poland and Sweden.

“Programmes promoting market-oriented behaviour in the management of education institutions are increasing pressures on the working conditions, professional autonomy and role of teachers, through the deterioration of the teaching and learning environments,” the union said.

Etuce president Larry Flanagan said there was an “intensification” of privatisation at the global, European and national levels, “despite the ever-growing body of evidence showing the negative consequences”.

The study, which was partly funded by the EU, also found the bloc is playing an increasingly important role in shaping education policy, such as through the European Education Area, a set of policies to raise standards and remove barriers between EU countries.

Susan Flocken, Etuce’s European director, said “inclusive” education systems built on “respect for the teaching profession” should “remain central” as Europe seeks recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.