Public Education: the greatest equaliser

Public education is the key to building better and more equal societies, providing everyone with a fair chance and helping grow our collective understanding of the world. Our future depends on the workers in this sector being able to do their job effectively, provided with adequate resources, auxillary support staff and funding.

The UN Human Rights Council recently adopted a resolution urging nations to invest in public education to address the negative impacts of the commercialisation of education.

Yet around the world, governments are under investing in education and devaluing the work of teachers and education support staff. Corporations increasingly view the education sector as a market for profit-making. Usually this means either promoting private education, which limits entry to those whose parents can afford the bill, or by profiting from public money by privatizing aspects of the schooling system.

Research consistently shows the most effective and equitable school system is a well-funded, universal public education, provided free to all by the state and funded through taxation.


Arabella Naldini, Childcare Professional

Standing up for Education Workers "The cry of a young child has a thousand different nuances"

Arabella is a young Childcare Professional working for a Municipal Creche in Sienna. With her union, she has been engaged in a struggle to end a freeze on funding for early childcare services and help integrate migrant families through public education programs. Learn more about her story as part of PSI's One Day Documentary Series.

Resisting Education Privatisation

Alongside our unions, we are on the frontline in the fight against commercialisation of education

Education Support and Cultural Workers’ Network Charter

Alongside Education International, we are on the frontline of the fight against privatization and for quality public education for all.


We stand up for the rights of education support workers and highlight the need to ensure adequate staffing levels and conditions


We fight for tax justice to ensure public funding for education for all and oppose austerity, user-pay models and layoffs


We defend for the right to public education at the highest levels of international governance, via the ILO and UN forum.


Education Support Workers - a diverse labour force

This graph represents the variety of auxillary support roles which the members of our affiliated unions engaged in the Education sector take on

Culture for all

Museums. Libraries. Art Galleries. The Theatre. Local media.

These forms of public services provide our society with a rich and vibrant life and help create a common culture for us all to share. They are powerful forces for social change, helping define our shared values and challenge existing power strucutres. Without public funding, they would cease to exist - or be limited to those who can afford the high cost of access.

We need a culture which reflects our diversity, which raises the voices of those who would otherwise remain unheard, which provokes difficult questions and engorges freedom of expression. We need to preserve the cultural heritage of towns, communities and nations as a public good.

Yet in a world with commercialism intruding into all areas of life, both the nature of these activities and access to them is limited. In an age of austerity, our cultural sector is often among first casualties. Museums are forced to charge entrance fees, libraries and swimming pools are shut, art is commercialised, national parks are underfunded, the press is a means to sell advertising, sport is big business and education is privatised.

If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution - Emma Goldman

Guaranteeing equal access for all, and ensuring that art and culture do not simply reproduce the dominant economic and social paradigm, requires an increase in public investment. It is not enough for the rich and wealthy to use philanthropy to fund their own vanity projects. Instead they need to pay their fair share of taxes to ensure our cultural sector is democratically determined and works in the interests of the public.

Public sector workers, artists, educationalists, journalists and culture workers embody these values. Their contribution to our society extends far beyond a market transaction. They often are forced to make significant sacrifices in their work.

We fight for a well-funded cultural sector, independent from financial and political interests and able to speak truth to power.

We stand up for cultural workers and their right to live free from precarity and with their social value recognized.

We resist the insidious influence of market forces and dominant forces of power over our culture.


We lead the fight for trade union rights around the world.

We engage

We promote social dialogue and bipartite and tripartite frameworks at the national and global level.

We educate

We organise union development projects and workshops to share strategies to help build union power.

We mobilize

We build global solidarity among affiliates and allies through solidarity campaigns and urgent action appeals, lobbying governments and institutions and organizing and participating in international missions.

We stand up for union activists

We fight for the release of imprisoned unionists and the reinstatement of public service workers persecuted for their union activities. We often attend trials as international solidarity observers.

We help unions fight

We assist affiliates to raise complaints with the ILO and other international and national supervisory mechanisms.

We influence global policy

We promote the ratification of ILO Convention 151 and 154 and participate in UN and ILO expert meetings and committees to advocate for public workers’ trade union rights.

Take action!

Want to help us influence global labour standards

Find out how you can join in the Annual International Labour Council at the ILO in June each year.

Want to challenge attacks on your trade union rights at the International level?

We help affiliates file complaints directly with the ILO. Contact us to find out how we can help

Want to gain a better understanding of your rights as a trade union activist?

Check out the Global Labour University's free online course on International Labour Standards

Want to support Trade Unionists under attack across the globe.

Check out PSI's latest solidarity campaigns

Got some sensitive information on Trade Union Rights violations in your country?

Leak to us.