2021 EIARC meeting: A clarion call to defend education and educators’ rights
These were the statements highlighted by Dr Koumba Boly Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education and David Edwards, EI General Secretary. The UN Special Rapporteur was addressing the EI Africa Regional Committee (EIARC) on “Guaranteeing the Right to Education in Africa during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis” and the EI General Secretary addressed the Committee on “Global Education Trends”.
The UN Special rapporteurs emphasised that the role of the teacher is indispensable and that teachers need to be listened to and their capacity built to guarantee quality education. She called for multidimensional dialogue involving major sectors like agriculture, finance, and health which have an effect on the students. She also observed the need to organise homes and communities to support learning as we give respect and motivation to teachers.
The EI General Secretary David Edwards traced the global education trends to cuts in education budgets, decline in development assistance, escalating increased commercialisation and privatisation of education, stagnating progress for the education of girls, school closures and lockdowns, and looming lay-off of educators in Early Childhood Education (ECE) and higher education institutions. These trends, he said, were not new but were in a new context and to reverse them everyone must be immunized against COVID -19, in person instruction must be promoted, privatizers must be halted, democracy should be defended. He underscored the role of EI saying:
“Education International has never been more relevant, more needed, more present, more vocal and … if anyone can shift the educational trend lines, chart a different course, build power, educate all young people about their rights, obligations and how to organize and change….it’s us.”