The Commonwealth Teachers’ Group (CTG), a grouping of EI member organisations in the Commonwealth, has called for holistic education, catering for the diverse needs of all students.
This call was made at the 18th Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers, held in Mauritius, from 28-31 August. A Teachers’ Forum was held concurrently with the Ministerial meeting.
The Teachers’ Forum noted with concern the slow progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) targets. Much work remains to be done in many Commonwealth countries to engender trust in teachers, recruit sufficient qualified teachers and increase access to education.
Efforts still needed
In its statement, presented to the Ministers of Education, the Teachers’ Forum emphasised the need for continuing efforts to: develop sustainable models of school leadership; improve pupil/teacher ratios; progressively reduce the use of unqualified teachers and create pathways to their becoming fully qualified; work positively with teacher unions/associations as partners; improve pay and conditions; and enhance teacher autonomy to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession. The CTG asserted the rights of teachers to be organised in trade unions to promote their rights as workers and the rights of children to education.
The Forum urged Commonwealth Ministers to ensure that education remained a priority within the Commonwealth Secretariat and to institute a participative process regarding the post 2015 development and education agenda. The Forum insisted that the post 2015 MDG and EFA agenda should put human rights and the right to education at the centre of the new framework. The participants also stressed the importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as a tool for improving teaching and learning.
Education leading to respect and understanding
The Forum further noted the important role of education in promoting respect and understanding and called for the provision of holistic education which addresses the specific needs of children and young people in order to achieve equality. The Forum also urged governments to ensure the provision of quality teacher training and professional development to promote respect and understanding.
Importance of strengthening public education
In her address to the Teachers’ Forum, EI President, Susan Hopgood, called for the strengthening of public education systems, arguing that privatisation was not the answer to the education quality and equity challenge still confronting many education systems across the globe.
Hopgood said that public-private partnerships “are not a viable alternative to public funding of education, if for no other reason than that they can lead to governments reducing their financial commitments and promote further privatisation of public education and commercialisation of educational services”.
“Education is a public good not a commodity”, Hopgood further underlined, “and its financing and provision is a fundamental responsibility of governments which must be supported and provided through adequate fiscal policy and funding arrangements”.
Dennis Sinyolo, EI Senior Coordinator for Education Employment, informed the Teacher’s Forum about EI’s teacher migration campaign and the work of the Teacher Migration and Mobility Task Force. In his address to the Stakeholders Forum, he urged the Commonwealth to adopt a life-long learning approach to teacher education, by ensuring that, in addition to initial preparation, teachers had access to induction and continuing professional development and support.
The CTG held its Convention in which new constitutional amendments were adopted, on 31 August. Calvin Fraser, General Secretary of the Canadian Teachers Federation and a member of the CTG Steering Committee, presented findings from the CTG’s recent survey on the use ICT in schools.
In her concluding remarks, CTG Convenor and General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, United Kingdom, Christine Blower, called upon the delegates to ensure that the recommendations of the Teachers’ Forum were implemented between now and the next Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers.
To read the CTG statement, please click here
Hopgood’s speech can be read in its entirety here