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Thank you Shashi Bala Singh for your dedication to education, educators and students in Asia-Pacific!

On the occasion of her retirement, Education International wishes to commend Shashi Bala Singh, its former Chief Regional Coordinator in the EI Asia Pacific regional office, for her outstanding work, commitment to trade unionism and quality education for all.

Shashi Bala Singh decided to retire from her Chief Regional Coordinator (CRC) position in Education International’s Asia-Pacific (EIAP) regional office, located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as from Mid-November 2018.

Drawn to teaching, she completed an education degree several years after marrying, obtaining a master's degree in Botany with a professional degree in Education.

When Singh became a primary school teachers in New Delhi in 1984, she appreciated the opportunity to be her own person and move beyond a domestic life. However, she had to face opposition from a society that didn’t approve of women working outside the home.

Singh later resigned from teaching  to serve the trade union movement. She focused on  gender equality. She got deeply involved in her union, the All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF), working as an Assistant national coordinator, even though “women were in the minority in the Delhi state union and they were undermined or treated as subservient,” as she describes it. “I have personally experienced the discrimination, the violence, the threats. I can understand the pain, difficulties and challenges women face.”

Before joining EI in 1993, first as Regional Coordinator, Singh worked as a Project Consultant for the World Confederation of Organisations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP), one of EI’s predecessor organisations.

Singh’s main areas of work for EI were gender and gender-related issues. She also oversaw projects involving membership education, professional development and Education for All under the development cooperation programme.

In 2013, she became EIAP Chief Regional Coordinator (CRC), responsible for five sub-regions including the South Pacific and countries as diverse as India, Nepal, Myanmar, Iraq, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Optimistic about the future, Bala Singh notes, as “proof that strong unions can work wonders,” that: teachers in India now have maternity protection benefits; women’s networks prosper in many regions; and there are quotas for female representation at all union decision-making levels. Girls’ enrolment in schools has also increased, and, although retention rates and learning outcomes are still a challenge, improvements are visible.

In many places, unions have become larger band more unified, and therefore stronger. Singh also highlights the role of EI and member unions in getting education recognised as a United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal.

“We would like to warmly thank Shashi for her dedication over all these years both as a regional coordinator and Chief regional coordinator, a post which she agreed to take on in particularly difficult circumstances,” according to EI General Secretary David Edwards.

“We are deeply grateful for her long-standing advocacy in favour of quality education, gender equality, and her actions ensuring that everyone can access education and achieve his or her potential,” he stressed, thanking Shashi for her outstanding work with EI.

Education International wishes Shashi to enjoy a happy and peaceful retirement, and congratulates Anand Singh for his appointment, wishing him success in stepping into Shashi’s shoes!