As trade unions mark the International Day for Human Rights on 10 December, EI pays tribute to teachers and education workers around the world who fight for the right to live and work in dignity. These educators also fight for freedom of expression, assembly and association; the right to bargain collectively; and for all other democratic rights.
As citizens, professionals or union activists, they contribute actively to ongoing struggles to secure and advance rights across all areas of social and political life.
They advocate for equal opportunities, quality public education, social justice and the achievement of all human rights’ standards. In doing this, they sometimes risk prosecution, imprisonment or worse, as is the case in countries such as Iran, Turkey, Bahrain, Colombia, Djibouti, Swaziland and Fiji
In 2012, education unions across the globe have reported many infringements of international human rights conventions and recommendations as well as serious attacks on trade unions and their freedoms.
In some countries hit by the economic and debt crisis, those freedoms, particularly in the public sector, have been restricted. This has occurred when austerity measures were taken without consultation with employees’ organisations, or when collective bargaining rights were revoked altogether, including the right to resort to industrial action.
Duty of respect
In Southern and Eastern Europe, in the Arab countries, in the United States and elsewhere, education unions mobilised their members to remind the public authorities of their duty to respect the values that underpin democratic societies.
Respecting the democratic rights of teachers will also help the profession carry out its professional responsibility to impart democratic values and human rights principles to future generations.
EI is the voice of the teaching profession in the international community. It challenges every single abuse of teachers’ rights with the appropriate UN agencies.
On 10 December, education unions around the world stand in solidarity with all those men and women showing commitment and courage to demand universal respect for fundamental rights, thereby strengthening democracy and social justice worldwide.
New international project
On this Human Rights Day, Education International and the American Federation of Teachers launch a project to promote human and workers’ rights in four countries: Egypt, Georgia, Honduras and Zimbabwe.
The title of the project is Teachers Advancing a Rights Culture, or TARC. It will provide teachers and their unions with the information and tools to assist them to promote human and workers’ rights and, in particular, democratic rights such as freedom of expression, assembly and association; and also help them to pursue the right of every child to a quality education.