TTIP – Selling out Education

educationJust imagine that your child goes to school as usual, however it is not welcomed by a teacher but by a screen on which a robot appears saying in a friendly voice:

„You will be shortly receiving the new App Test. The nice people from Apple were generous enough to sponsor it. Just watch the following McDonald’s commercial and then you can start. Please be aware that copying from your neighbour is impossible, because at the same time you will be constantly monitored by the app.“

TTIP – be aware of what is at the bottom of it!

Regularly the Netzfrauen have mentioned the potentially dramatic consequences of TTIP. The negotiations seem almost like meetings of secret diplomats, completely walled off. There they hatch plans for interventions into every EU citizen’s life, and the threat of the „chlorine-washed chicken“ is just one of the smaller evils in comparison. The negotiators presume to have the right to make agreements that threaten the foundation of democracy and interfere strongly with citizens‘ rights and jurisdiction. The doors are locked when the European Commission talks to the US government about GMOs and also one aspect of life we have not looked at yet: Education!

The German teachers‘ union VBE had this to say (German Source: dpa)

The teachers‘ organisation VBE warned about the risks for the education sector in the light of the free-trade agreement between EU and the U.S.A.. The federal chairman of the VBE, Udo Beckmann said: „If the market could be entered without any barriers, the ability of EU member states to assure the quality of private, profit-orientated schools could be restricted.“ To put it pointedly: Teachers are in danger of eventually being replaced by apps. Beckmann demanded a participation of national parliaments in the negotiation talks.

This picture of our childrens‘ and grandchildrens‘ future should make everyone listen up. Education in danger?

Economic interests in schools

It was already back in 2013, when Mrs Aigner invited fast food chain McDonald’s into schools. Nutritional education is what they were going for. Just think about it for a moment, this is like setting the fox to keep the geese. McDonald’s, usually rather known as experts for fast food, were supposed to teach school kids how to eat healthily. These alliance partners are by far not free from ulterior motives. Edeka, Metro and Rewe (German supermarket giants) also participated along with McDonald’s, contributing to funding via donations. Commercial companies, representing their legitimate interests of profit, but what does this have to do with schools? McDonald’s and those trading companies have so far not shown themselves to be experts at whole food nutrition but rather in greasy burgers and „Quengelkassen“, a German expression (whining checkouts) for those supermarket checkouts that have shelves stocked with sweets at childrens‘ height level, so kids whine until they get those sweets. School as an advertising partner? Source (German)

Education is a Human Right. Every child is entitled to it.

On the 10th of December in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly came together to ratify and proclaim the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was the first Human Rights document in history to include the right to education. As a universal Human Right, is has to be granted to everybody.

Included in the document is the following passage:

The States Parties of the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right:

  • Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;
  • Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
  • Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
  • Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;
  • The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved. Source.

Education is a Human Right, but in 1948 the age of computers or mobile phones was not forseeable. The inclusion of McDonald’s and others is even in accordance with this law, since the respective state makes education available, even if it is in the form of an app.

Education has to be excluded from TTIP negotiations.

VBE criticises free-trade agreement planned between EU and USA

Ongoing negotiations about a free-trade agreement (TTIP) between EU and the U.S.A. so far also concern all public services. The VBE demands the categorical exclusion of the education sector from the negotiating mandate. This has been emphasised by VBE federal chairman Udo Beckmann in a letter to the German government, the parliament and all big parties‘ leading candidates for the European election.

Some quotes from this letter:„The negotiations about TTIP give rise to the highest concern for the VBE.“

„I most strongly warn about the unforseeable risks for the entire educational sector, if TTIP increases the pressure to privatise and commercialise schools. The non-transparent way the TTIP negotiations are carried out and the previous lack of involvement of national parliaments strengthens our worries that the educational sector and all its employees will be presented with faits accompli. This goes directly against our idea of a democracy.“

The VBE federal chairman also clarified: „The rules of commercial trade shall never restrict the options of governments and relevant public authorities to provide high quality public education. We entreat you to ensure this by explicitly excluding all education services from the TTIP negotiations. The EU and member states were also asked to express their support for exclusion of education services.

Udo Beckman emphasised that the VBE saw the elections for the European Parliament as an important occasion for critically scrutinising the TTIP project and developing transparent solutions for society.

In April 2014, the VBE had already informed the government Source (German). Why are we being told about his just now? The elections are over, the power play about who will be president is settled. The heads of the European governments nominated Jean-Claude Juncker for the position of president of the European Commission. Mr Juncker is in favour of TTIP.

Austria carries education to its grave

In Austria the Ministry of Science, Research and Academia was simply abolished and is now part of the Ministry of Economy. This is very handy for corporations to more easily influence education. Is business about to devour science completely?

Universities have been transformed from research facilities to more school-like structured factories producing skilled workers. From there it is only a small step to just give the reins over to business and let them decide what science and research should be about. Under normal circumstances this would be seen as unwise because of the conflict of interests between science and business. The students realised this and took to the street in the thousands to voice their anger and symbolically carried education to its grave [Österreich: Großdemo von 30.000 Beamten legen Verkehr in Wien lahm (German)]

In Germany there is an alarming number of people who have no idea what TTIP is. Most of them think it is none of their concern, because they can’t change anything anyway and also they expect that things will turn out less dire than generally predicted. To these people we say: Things will turn out even worse than predicted! When this happens, do not say you have not been warned!

To give you another image:

Your child calls you from school on his or her new phone, of course made by Apple, and tells you that you don’t have to cook a meal. There has been a new creation presented by McDonald’s, washed down with a new offering by the nice people from Coca Cola. The dessert has also been taken care of, since Nestlé has launched a new type of chocolate. A cereal bar served as a snack, made by Monsanto with GMO grain. To improve lessons, a new school software has been provided by Microsoft. And the much talked about school uniform bears the Nike logo, because the school also needs a bit of a sporty touch, even if it only affects the clothes.

Twelve states are close to sealing a trade agreement enabling companies to sue our governments because of laws that give priority to citizens over businesses. From GMO labelling, to internet freedom and even education, everything could potentially be affected. Let us start a global outcry to prevent these corporations gaining so much power.

This is about the future of our children and grandchilden and it is about us!

Netzfrau Doro Schreier

Translated by Angela Carstensen

Collated information on TTIP here (german)

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