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International call for GATS exclusion

AUS WEB SITEInternational call for education to be excluded from GATS
Education International, representing 26 million teachers and education personnel around the world, has written to the New Zealand Prime Minister expressing its astonishment that the government has asked other countries to open their education systems to commercial competition under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

"It is our belief that your request for the full opening to foreign competition, including in the area of Research and Development, of the educational systems of other countries is at odds with what is proposed in the Guiding Principles that you will apply to New Zealand", wrote its General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen. "We have difficulty understanding why New Zealand makes requests of others that it says it is not prepared to accept for itself."

Education International "believes that liberalisation of trade in the education sector is a mistake. The implementation of the right to education, a collective as well as an individual right, is to benefit society as a whole and is a governmental responsibility. Trade in education services is based on a premise that everything is a commodity that can be bought and sold to serve economic interests."

Commenting on the letter, AUS National President Dr Bill Rosenberg, said that the letter added further authority to the call from AUS and other education unions for the government to remove education from the GATS agreement. "It confirms our view that the government has undermined our ability to protect public education by its extraordinary requests to other countries to open their education systems to foreign competition’, he said.

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