16th CSFEF Conference
The Francophone Trade Union Committee on Education and Training (CSFEF) held its 16th Conference in Paris on 24-26 September 2018, with participants from over 30 French-speaking countries. One of the five round tables organised as part of the programme concerned commercialisation in education. Presentations focused on: the development of the theory of new public management into public education systems in the Anglo-Saxon world and increasingly elsewhere in the last 30 years; the challenges of citizenship education in Haiti, where over 85% of the children are in private schools; and the national action plan developed by EI affiliates in Senegal following the workshop for Western African Francophone unions held in Côte d’Ivoire in May 2018.
Teacher Policy Dialogue Forum
EI attended the Teacher Policy Dialogue Forum convened by the Teacher Task Force in Jamaica, from 5-9 November 2018, and held several side meetings with UNESCO, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the Global Partnership for Educaiton (GPE) and others to advance the work on teachers, including the development of global guidelines on professional teaching standards.
EI influenced the outcome document, and the adopted declaration focused on ensuring that teacher issues stay at the centre of the global education agenda. EI asked UNESCO and UIS to collaborate on developing clear definitions and classifications of qualified and trained teachers, and to strengthen cooperation and reporting mechanisms ensuring full monitoring of sustainable development target 4c. The Policy Dialogue Forum called on governments to ensure adequate financing of education and teachers, which should be achieved primarily through mobilising domestic resources based on socially fair fiscal policies, rigorous measures against corruption and illegal financial flows, efficient and effective teacher policies and deployment practices developed with the full involvement of teachers and their organisations, as well as a continuous focus on external resource mobilisation to complement countries’ domestic resources.
Global Education Meeting
EI actively took part in the Global Education Meeting (GEM), which took place in Brussels, Belgium, from 3-5 December 2018. The GEM, convened by UNESCO and hosted by the Government of Belgium, took stock of progress towards the global education targets and commitments in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and identified strategic priority areas requiring political guidance and intervention for the effective achievement of the global Education 2030 agenda. In particular, it focused on how to reduce inequalities in and through education, ensuring that the SDG commitment to “leave no-one behind” is truly honoured.
EI ensured that teachers were a priority issue at the GEM. It organised and led a parallel forum session on teachers, in which representatives from countries across the world spoke about best practices to raise the status of qualified teachers and thereby increase the global supply of qualified teachers. Furthermore, EI General Secertary David Edwards spoke at a high level panel on teachers during the ministerial segment of the meeting, during which he stressed the importance of investing in teachers, their training and support, and of trusting teachers and giving them professional autonomy.
EI’s participation in the meeting also focused on the importance of inclusive education. The launch of two new EI research documents on inclusive education occurred at the meeting, and Peter Mimahadala from the Tanzania Teachers Union spoke at a high level panel on inclusive education about the challenges faced by students with disabilities to access quality education. EI played a key role in the formation of the meeting’s outcome document, the “Brussels Declaration”.
EI had an information stand at GEM, where participants could ask EI staff about the organisation, its aims and priorities, as well as get access to key EI research studies.
The meeting was an opportunity for EI to renew alliances with other actors in the education community – country representatives, academia, and civil society.
EI joined ITUC and other Global Unions at the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, from 7-14 December 2018.
At the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), EI called for greater boldness in integrating the issue of climate change into national education policies at all levels. The main challenge of COP24 was to make the Paris Agreement a reality by adopting measures to ensure its implementation. EI argued that education is one of the solutions to combatting climate change and that capacity development for stakeholders, including policymakers, teachers and students, must be financed and provided. EI continues to participate in UNESCO's Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, and to insist that climate change education should be considered a key priority in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UN Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
EI attended the UN Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, held in Marrakech, Morocco, from 10-11 December 2018. The UN General Assembly formally endorsed the outcome of the Marrakech Conference on 19 December 2018.
EI and other Global Unions issued a statement criticising 13 governments that had confirmed that they would not sign the historic Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Rather than contributing to solving pressing issues connected with migration and moving towards coherence and global governance of migration, they had preferred to use the Compact as an opportunity to appeal to nationalist and extremist anti-migrant feelings. Speaking at the intergovernmental conference that adopted the Global Compact on Migration, EI called on governments and the UN to deal with the scourge of xenophobia and racism, and to make our societies, workplaces, schools and, and indeed all institutions and services inclusive and welcoming to migrants and refugees. EI pressed governments to implement the Global Compact, a message reiterated in an EI statement issued on 18 December for International Migrants Day.
Advancing an international copyright exception for education and research and involving education unions in related discussions were the key goals of EI at the 37th session of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), held from 26 November-1st December in Geneva, Switzerland.
EI advocated fair access to works for teaching, learning and research and promoted the recently endorsed global draft treaty on copyright exceptions and limitations for educational and research activities (TERA). If moved forward at WIPO the treaty would empower teachers, education support personnel and researchers around the world to make fair use of copyrighted work regardless of where they are in the world including for cross-border teaching, learning and research.
During a side event at the 37th SCCR, EI stressed the importance of involving education stakeholders in the regional meetings and to discuss what the biggest barriers for teachers, ESP and researchers are in relation to copyright and what kind of normative work (e.g. the Treaty) should be done at WIPO. Industrial countries remain the biggest opponents of global copyright reforms and developing countries are big supporters. It will be important for EI to work with both.
2019 will be an exciting year for global copyright reforms as WIPO/SCCR adopted an Action Plan with a number of extraordinary regional events that should discuss exceptions and limitations for education, research and persons with disabilities.
FES/CICTAR/PSI Global Union Corporate Tax Campaigning Seminar
Protecting workers’ rights in the face of tax avoidance by multinational companies was the key issue discussed at the trade union global tax seminar held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 8-10 October. Hosted by the Friedrich Ebert (FES) foundation, the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR) and Public Services International (PSI), the event examined tax practices of multinational companies and their effects on working conditions.
The seminar exposed the tax practices of these firms in order to “challenge this destructive business model”, according to a brief by CICTAR.It provided unions with insight and guidance on how to identify and conduct corporate tax campaigns to achieve industrial and political objectives
The common practices of outsourcing, privatisation, and precarious working conditions in which multinational corporations often engage are, according to CICTAR, responsible for growing inequality, declining wages and working conditions and attacks on collective bargaining and declining union representation. Multinational companies avoid taxes through complex and opaque structures but depend heavily on government contracts. “Challenging the business model of multinational companies presents an opportunity to win improvements for millions of workers and to advance global tax justice,” the brief states.
EI's 11th Further and Higher Education and Research Conference
From 12-14 November 2018 in Taipei, Taiwan, the conference entitled “Advancing Conditions for Staff-Improving Quality Education” provided union leaders and activists representing teachers, academics and researchers in institutes, colleges, and universities with an important opportunity to meet peers from around the world, discuss key issues facing their professions, and build networks of contact and support.
Participants voiced great concern about political developments that have led to increased pressure on and limits to academic freedom, which is essential for the aims and mission of tertiary education institutions. Their mission is to serve students, but also to serve democracy and the common good of society through the preservation, advance and dissemination of knowledge.
GCE World Assembly
The 6th Global Campaign for Education (GCE) World Assembly was held from 16-18 November 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal, under the theme “Transforming public education systems for equality, inclusion and justice”. The World Assembly provided an ideal space to reflect on progress made, exchange learning and ways of working. This is important as, together, EI and its affiliates scale up efforts and increase global impact in achieving good quality inclusive education for all.