Antoni Verger and Mario Novelli: “Education is not for sale”: Teachers’ unions multi-scalar struggles against liberalizing the education sector

Antoni Verger and Mario Novelli: “Education is not for sale”: Teachers’ unions multi-scalar struggles against liberalizing the education sector

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) pushes for the continuous liberalization of education all over the world. This agreement is directly affecting the education regulatory framework of the WTO member states as well as the geographies of decision-making in education affairs. However, the GATS is being widely contested by the education community. Teachers unions and other education stakeholders have opposed and campaigned against the GATS in different countries and at a range of geographical scales, from the local to the global.

This paper explores how non-state actors, their ideas and strategic action, are key elements to understanding the outcomes of the global liberalization process entailed by the GATS. Specifically, it shows how the scalar interaction between civil society networks and the organization of the struggle at different scales is a key impact factor for non-state actors in global politics. At the same time, civil society organizations’ reflexivity on the re-scaling of politics and on the new challenges rescaling means in terms of strategy and political opportunities are also relevant factors of political success.

The arguments of the article are based on an in-depth case study over Education International, the biggest international federation of teacher unions, and its campaign against the GATS.

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