GATS/WTO and the global governance of education: An analysis of its impacts on teachers’ professionalism

Juliette Torabian


As a multilateral organisation, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has had an impact on rules of education governance by extending markets to education. The rescaling of education rules from national to supranational has, in turn, stimulated a shift in the social identities, roles and professionalism of teachers around the world. This study explores the impacts of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) on educational spaces and the role it may have had on affecting teachers’ professionalism including autonomy, extended professional knowledge, income, social prestige, unions and ethical codes of conduct. It will be revealed that market rules may reconstruct the meanings and aspirations of education and thus may play a significant role in re-professionalising teaching as a profession. Nonetheless, the WTO/GATS rules may not de-professionalise teaching as teachers actively reconstruct their identities and their profession and negotiate their ethical codes and values within both local and global spheres.


teacher professionalism, governance, globalisation

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