Take education out of GATS
This was the email circulated with the sign-on statement on the day of its release (20th August 2003).
Sorry for cross-posting: International sign-on statement, "Take education out of GATS", launched, on 20th August 2003! You are encouraged to urgently circulate this email to education groups (teachers unions, university associations, students unions, school administrations, parents and teachers groups, whatever... as long as they have a strong education link) all around the world. Signatures to email@example.com. Background: As you will probably be aware, there has been much discussion amongst the global education community of the potential impact of the WTO's GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) on education systems worldwide. To a large extent, education stakeholders have reacted negatively to the prospect of regulating education within the GATS framework. It is time for the global education community to make concrete this rejection of regulating education within the GATS framework. To this end, I am asking if your organisation will consider adding its name to the attached sign-on statement, "Take education out of GATS". (If the statement is not attached, it can be downloaded from http://www.gatswatch.org/educationoutofgats.) The short-term motivation for launching the attached statement is the imminent WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, from 10th-14th September 2003. While GATS may seem like something of an "old" issue now, especially amongst education stakeholders who are involved in the field of international education, it is crucial that the global education community realise that there is still a long way to go in warding off the threat posed by GATS. Cancun marks the mid-point of the WTO "Doha Round" of negotiations and will be used to add momentum to the current round of GATS negotiations; by the end of 2004 WTO members will have finalised which new sectors they wish to open and/or in which sectors they wish to deepen liberalisation. And, let me remind you, promises from certain WTO members they they do not plan to liberalise their education systems in this round (most notably, the EU) are not sufficient grounds to believe the threat has gone. The EU's promise does not address the "progressive liberalisation" mandate of GATS, nor the requests and offers that countries other than the EU will receive and transmit; we suspect that the US is pushing for radical education liberalisation in many countries, for example. Added to all this is the alarming prospect of education getting caught-up in the political cross-fire and deal-making that will inevitably accompany the Cancun ministerial. Please consider signing the statement. The immediate plan is to urgently collect as many organisational signatures as possible before the Cancun meeting, to draw attention (in the inevitable flurry of WTO-related media activity at this time) to our request that education be fully withdrawn from GATS. However, the statement is not time-sensitive and signatures will continue to be collected, from all over the world, after Cancun. Indeed, as the number of signatures increases, a "critical mass" will hopefully be attained that will convince organisations still to sign-up that concretising their objection to regulating education within GATS is consistent with the opinion of educational organisations all over the world. The "home" of the statement will be at http://www.gatswatch.org/educationoutofgats. Organisations that wish to sign-on should email details (organisation name, contact email address, country of origin where applicable, web address where applicable) to firstname.lastname@example.org The content of http://www.gatswatch.org/educationoutofgats will evolve over time. Signatures area already flowing in quite quickly and once the number of initial signatures passes a certain thresshold, I will put the signatories on the website and thenceforth will regularly update the list to show who has signed the statement. So do check back regularly to assess progress! Finally, if your group can help in anyway - press work, translation work, circulating the statement, talking to other groups to see if they will sign, and so on - please don't hesitate to do so! Let's ensure education is taken out of GATS! Spread the statement far and wide! Many thanks, Steven Kelk - moderator of GATSeducation@yahoogroups.com 20th August 2003 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: +31-618-450-696 (Dutch number)