Simmering conflicts in higher education have reached the boiling point across Canada and around the globe. Teach-ins, occupations, strikes, and mass protests are being mobilized against exorbitant tuition fees, declining educational quality, mismanagement, the commodification of research, and the suppression of free speech and critical inquiry. A Penny For Your Thoughts, a new book from CCPA's Education Project, shows how Canadian higher education has come to this point.

Through 17 real time studies, it tracks how the deteriorating condition of postsecondary education is rooted in corporatization, the process through which universities and colleges increasingly work for, with, and as businesses. The book’s central message is that the current state of Canadian universities is neither natural nor inevitable: it is the outcome of choices, policies, and actions that can be unmade and undone. Authors Claire Polster and Janice Newson do not prescribe easy recipes for achieving this. Instead, they help citizens to arrive at their own understandings of corporatization and to identify where and how they can intervene strategically in their local universities and communities to reverse its effects. By so doing, Canadians can reclaim their universities as public-serving institutions that realize their highest aspirations and meet their own, their fellow citizens’, and the global community’s most pressing needs.

Photo: ITUC.

The FfD agenda is an important reference point for discussions on development finance, and serves as a unique space where governments, in particular from the South, are able to debate important issues like trade and foreign direct investment as well as systemic issues like the international financial architecture and financial regulation. These are the global economic issues that were absent in the origin and overall framework of the Millennium Development Goals and remain piecemeal in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework.

It is often argued that social protection is not affordable or that government expenditure cuts are inevitable during adjustment periods. But there are alternatives, even in the poorest countries. A recent ILO paper  “Fiscal Space for Social Protection: Options to Expand Social Investments in 187 Countries” offers an array of options that can be explored to expand fiscal space and generate resources for social investments.

As negotiations on the draft outcome of the Financing for Development Conference resume at the United Nations in New York, the European Commission launches its 2015 European Report on Development titled Combining finance and policies to implement a transformative post-2015 development agenda to contribute to the debate .

The European Commission sends a strong message in its 377 page-long report: the Sustainable Development Goals will require substantial additional finance (well beyond ODA), but any additional financing should be coupled with reformed policy frameworks at the local, national and global level to bring about the expected results.

They say in Africa that you do not correct an older man in public. So with all due respect to the very able team of Nobel Laureates, Intellectual minds and some Civil Society and Non State Actors who have been advising the Copenhagen Consensus, allow me to explain why I think they are wrong in asserting that we should abandon the work that the United Nations has done and instead focus all our resources and energy on what they call “ 19 Smarter Targets for Development by 2030”.

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