Education privatization is a hard phenomenon to define because it has many possible forms, constantly evolves, and looks different from place to place. Education privatization sometimes refers to greater involvement of private actors in public education systems. These actors include parents, religious institutions, businesses, and any other non-government organizations. They may take on new or expanded responsibilities for funding, governing, or delivering education, among other possibilities.
Education privatization may also refer to new policies and practices in public schools and districts that reflect the ideas and values of the for-profit sector. Popular initiatives include creating markets in education, emphasizing job-related skills in the curriculum, and measuring and ranking schools, and there are many others.
These changes lead to another kind of education privatization: the idea that public schooling is primarily for creating individual benefits rather than for the public good.
While not new, the COVID-19 pandemic created the conditions for education privatization to grow and flourish. Research from Canada and across the globe demonstrates that education privatization recreates and worsens social inequalities.