In 2000 the Jacques Hallak, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education noted that "Today education is a sector weighing two trillion dollars and companies are continually expanding their choice of 'educational merchandise'." He said that UNESCO was "convinced that public and private education sectors each have something valuable to contribute, and that by combining their efforts and forging partnerships, they can boost the educational system's overall effectiveness".
In the mid-1990s, the European Round Table of Industrialists, which gathers prominent CEOs, pointed its finger at 'an ever-widening gap between the education that people need for today's complex world and the education they receive'... As the European Round Table of Industrialists puts it, 'the whole situation could be turned around if school education underwent the same transformation as the workplace.' ... Under pressure to cut spending, governments are loosening regulations and providing incentives to the private sector. In Cote d'Ivoire, 60 percent of secondary schools are now in private hands.
Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) is a private education company that owns and operates schools in 125 countries with over 100,000 students. It claims to be "the largest private kindergarten to grade 12 education operator in the world". (Pictured is GEMS Gurukul International School - Nawalgarh, India).
Its founder and chair, Sunny Varkey, is an education entrepreneur who claims to blend "high education standards, innovation and customer service" in his schools.
In 2005 Varkey told The Economist that he plans to set up a chain of more than 100 schools in the UK. He intends to charge around £5000 per pupil, the same as it costs the government to educate a pupil in public schools. GEMS runs 12 private schools in the UK which have tended to make a loss. Nevertheless it believes that if it is allowed to run public schools and sponsor academies it will be able to make a profit.
But a more worrying sign for those wanting to expand for-profit education is the reaction to GEMS's only attempt so far to move into low-cost education [in the UK], by raising class sizes from 14 to 18 at a school it owns in Milton Keynes. That infuriated parents. Some are saying they want to buy the school themselves. GEMS says it's not for sale.
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