Building peace in the minds of men and women

Revisiting the Principle of Education as a Public Good

20 July 2016

The 17th Working Paper in our series on the challenges facing education has been published. This latest paper re-examines the principle of education as a public good in the current context in which education is being increasingly privatised and commodified.

Education has been considered a human right and a public good in global public policy at least since 1945. This conceptualization has been produced and advanced by international organizations ever since, particularly by UN agencies and, among these, UNESCO. However, the educational landscape has changed considerably since then and it is now characterized by an increasing involvement of non-state actors, including for-profit organizations.

After a thorough review of the theoretical foundations of the concept of public good and its limitations, the paper goes on to argue that a philosophical reading of the principles underlying the concept seems appropriate for this day and age. The author thus suggests the notion of education as a common good to transcend utilitarian views and as a vehicle to conceive of education as a collective endeavour from a humanistic perspective.