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2021/2 cartoon competition

School choice and the education market


This year, for the first time, the GEM Report is launching a cartoon competition in partnership with the Cartoon Movement, a global platform for editorial cartoons and comics journalism with a community of over 500 cartoonists in more than 80 countries. The GEM Report team has worked with cartoonists for several years to illustrate the various topics being analysed in its annual publications, including with award winner Toby Morris from New Zealand, political cartoonist Gado from Tanzania and Anne Derenne from France.

Deemed by the team as a thought-provoking communications tool, the cartoons are commissioned as an original way to tease out the multiple themes in each annual report. The competition is focused on the theme of the forthcoming 2021/2 GEM Report covering the role, influence, benefits and concerns about non-state actors in education. The competition is to create the best cartoon depiction of issues related to school choice and the impact of non-state actors in access, equity and quality in education. The winning submission will receive $500.


The brief

We are inviting submissions of original cartoons that capture the different opinions around school choice.

Ideally, choice would motivate healthy competition. Given information and options, parents could voice concerns, push for improvements or move to other schools. Choice and its effects could improve the functioning of schools and systems, incentivize innovation and result in better student outcomes and parent satisfaction. Overall, a wide variety of factors are important in the choices that parents make, including school academic quality and achievements, teacher quality, and location and safety, an active and child-friendly school climate. While some of these characteristics are particular to schools, most of these are overlapping educational and societal dimensions.

However, the reality of competition in education is often far from these ideal scenarios. The main criticism of market-oriented policies is that education is incompatible with market assumptions in the first place. In addition, critics believe that school choice benefits wealthier schools, families and communities, increasing inequality. Poorer parents can lack choices, have limited voice and limited access to information. When education is not free, financial constraints can affect the ability to choose schools, even if school vouchers offer funds to some families to help them overcome these constraints to choose schools more freely. Ultimately, parents make interconnected decisions to determine what choices are feasible – relying on available information, but primarily through shortcuts to decision-making such as social networks, schools’ demographic composition or visual cues from school infrastructure.


The nature of the ambiguity and differing views about the issue of non-state actors can be drawn from the following:


- Private schools are (not) better than public ones. Public schools (do not) promote equality.

- Those who choose school, (do not) choose the best.

- Everyone can (not) choose a school.

- Private schools (do not) improve the quality of education through competition.

- Regulation of the educational market (does not) improve equality.

- Private schools (do not) prepare students better for life.

- The working conditions of teachers (teachers) are (not) better in the private sector.

- Non-governmental organizations (do not) contribute to achieving the goal of education for all.

- Private schools (do not) seek only profit.

- Governments are (not) responsible for the privatization of education.

- Public education is (not) cheaper than private education.

- The boundaries between public and private in education are (not) obvious.

- Educational policy is (not) shaped by government.


Further background can be found in these GEM Report blogs on the role of non-state actors in education or in the concept note for the report.


How your cartoon will be used

If selected, your cartoon will be used in the 2021/2 Global Education Monitoring Report and associated communications products including but not limited to multiple language versions, summary versions, flyers, event invitations, banners (web and print), posters, and a host of other communications materials. In accordance with UNESCO publishing policy, all UNESCO publications are to be made available in Open Access under the Creative Commons or any other open licensing system.



Each cartoon should be accompanied by description text that includes a short artist biography and a caption, as well as the credit you would like to be used if your cartoon is chosen (likely format Credit: YOUR NAME/UNESCO/GEM Report). Please note you will be judged on the cartoon alone, not the supporting text - this will purely be used for contextual purposes.


See the “Terms and conditions” for technical specifications.

The best cartoon will be awarded with $500 and your cartoon(s) will be put forward for selection to appear in the 2021/2 GEM Report and other outreach material credited with your name.


Who can enter?

Anyone is eligible to enter the contest. Contestants may submit multiple entries but no more than 3 per cartoonist.


How to submit your cartoon(s)

Please send your cartoon(s) in electronic format by following the instructions below:

1. Go to

2. Enter your name and email

3. Upload your .zip file

4. Enter recipient email:

5. Enter message to recipient: "2021 Cartoon Contest". Cartoons will not be accepted without the description text.

6. Click [Send] button



After the contest closes at 23.59 on 30 July 2021 (Paris time), qualifying cartoons will be judged on adherence to the contest challenge through its message clarity, composition and overall presentation. UNESCO GEM REPORT will publish the cartoons on Facebook for a public vote, after which a GEM Report panel will look at the cartoons with the highest votes and make a decision. The panel's decision is final; the panel may also decide not to select any cartoons to appear in the next Report if entries are judged of insufficient quality. Any attempt by a participant to influence the result or subvert the cartoon competition will lead to immediate disqualification.

We will announce the winning images on the GEM Report’s blog and social media accounts by September 2021.

View Terms and Conditions