The regulation of the commercial approach to the educational sector by WTO/ GATS

The text indicates the entrepreneurial groups' growing interest in the educational field given the large amount of resources involved, presenting the perspective of including education, as a service, on the agenda of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, as a World Trade Organisation directive. To this end, it analyses WTO and GATS documents, as well as proposals presented by some countries, demonstrating their interests in eliminating "barriers" to "free trade" in education. The text points out that the existence of national regulations and even the offer of public education can be challenged as practices which are harmful to the "free" offer of educational services and subject to WTO sanctions allowing business groups to demand public resources and other benefits. Should GATS succeed, it runs the risk of converting education from a subjective public right into a process of simple commercialisation of educational packages (e.g. courses, systems of evaluation and certification, textbooks, uniforms, maps etc.). It concludes by indicating that such a perspective clearly endangers national sovereignty and autonomy, leading potentially to the loss of cultural diversity and local values, to the benefit of a process of cultural homogeneity. Notwithstanding, it also highlights the emergence of movements opposing this tendency.

commercialisation of education; privatisation; World Trade Organisation; General Agreement on Trade in Services

ANPEd - Associação Nacional de Pós-Graduação e Pesquisa em Educação Rua Visconde de Santa Isabel, 20 - Conjunto 206-208 Vila Isabel - 20560-120, Rio de Janeiro RJ - Brasil, Tel.: (21) 2576 1447, (21) 2265 5521, Fax: (21) 3879 5511 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil