UNESCO and EI have signed a renewed memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Paris, France, on 22 November 2012. The document lays out the cooperation for the 2012-2020 period between the two organisations dedicated to achieving free quality public education.
The document recognises the key role of social dialogue between teachers and governments on education and professional issues. It notes in particular the key role undertaken in education and in their societies by teachers and other educational personnel.
Quality teachers to achieve Education for All goals
“UNESCO and EI will cooperate in promoting the right to education and education for all, in particular regarding quality and the role of teachers through advocacy, notably within the EFA mechanisms and the Education First initiative, and the dissemination of research results and other relevant knowledge products,” stresses the MoU.
“Efforts will be made for further involving, through their unions, teaching practitioners more directly in debates at global, regional and local levels. In addition to joint efforts to contribute to achieving Education for All goals, UNESCO and EI will also explore and collaborate to frame and implement the post 2015 education and development agenda.”
The MoU also highlights that, in terms of normative work, UNESCO and EI will continue to cooperate within the framework of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997). In particular, both organisations will disseminate information about the Recommendations and cooperate in pursuing their full implementation in all countries.
Focus on research and gender equality in education
Under the signed document, UNESCO and EI will undertake joint research and studies on key issues related to teaching and learning, and share the results of such research, including the consequences of the international economic and financial crisis and development aid policies.
“UNESCO and EI will continue to cooperate on programs aimed at achieving gender equality, and in particular on the extension of educational opportunities for women and girls,” the MoU adds. “Moreover, UNESCO and EI will ensure that attention is paid to gender issues in all cooperative programs and activities.”
UNESCO and EI to take lead in global debate on education
“It’s a new start,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Nowadays, unrepresentative and self-declared think tanks are trying to lead a global education agenda that should be debated and advanced by governments, teachers and civil society. Wouldn’t it be great if we could initiate a new debate on education? It’s important to make an effort to retake the initiative.”
He stated that EI is the best placed to remind society about the true purpose of education, and initiate a new debate about this purpose.
Van Leeuwen welcomed the rethink of the Memorandum of understanding signed in 1999, to intensify the natural partnership between UNESCO and EI.
“EI needs UNESCO and UNESCO needs EI,” van Leeuwen stressed. “In the international arena, you are our natural partner in addressing the philosophy of education and the challenges facing the teaching profession. We must develop a framework in which we could organise a global debate on the future of education between governments and education unions.”
"It is very fitting that we are signing this framework agreement with Education International during the Global Education Meeting,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “Both our organisations know that without well-trained and respected teachers, the EFA goals and MDG2 cannot be met. We are proud to have a longstanding partnership with Education International. Today this is being reinforced through a broad Memorandum of Understanding that covers a spectrum of areas from research and policy dialogue to knowledge sharing and advocacy.”
Bokova added: “It is crucial for the voices of teachers to be heard when we speak about achieving quality education for all: by working closely with a global federation representing some 30 million educators, we will ensure that our policies and recommendations will be beneficial for the teaching profession worldwide.”
The EI/UNESCO MoU can be read in its entirety here
Video interview of Dr Qian Tang, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, about the MoU: