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North American and Caribbean teachers urge governments to invest in public education

EI's 5th North American and Caribbean Regional Conference was held in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica, West Indies, from 22-23 January 2007. More than 100 representatives of teachers' organisations from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean participated, along with officers of the EI Executive Board and staff.

The conference theme was Access to Quality Public Education for All and it explored threats to quality public education, private pressures on public education, teacher education and development, and the impact of technology on education. Delegates shared their concerns about quality public education as a fundamental human right that is essential to promotion of democratic values and sustainable national development. They also passed a number of recommendations related to greater involvement in the political processes in their respective countries, advocating for governments to invest more resources in public education and to make the teaching profession more attractive through the following measures:
  • Increase in salary and benefits to teachers
  • Move towards professionalization of the teaching profession
  • Improve working conditions of teachers
  • Provide professional and other support services to teachers
  • Provide full funding for education up to the higher education level
For the statement of the Ocho Rios meeting in English, please see below: ------------------ North American and Caribbean Regional Conference Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica January 22 & 23, 2007 1. The Fifth Education International North American and Caribbean Regional Conference was held in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica, West Indies, from January 22 to 23, 2007. 2. It included over one hundred (100) representatives of teachers' unions/Associations from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It also included officers of the EI Executive Board and staff from the EI Office in Brussels. 3. The conference was hosted by the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA). It was officially opened by Senator the Honourable Noel K. Monteith, Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Youth, Jamaica. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Reg. Weaver, Vice President, Education International and President, National Education Association (NEA), USA. 4. The conference was held under the theme, Access to Quality Public Education for All and with sub-themes:
  • Threats to Quality Public Education
  • Private Pressure on Public Education
  • Teacher Education and Development
  • Impact of Technology on Education
5. The delegates reaffirmed that quality public education was a fundamental human right and contributed to the promotion of democratic values and sustainable national development. 6. Delegates shared ideas on education in the region and had discussions on the four sub-themes and approved the following recommendations:
6.1 Delegates were of the view that young teachers were not interested in union activities because of lack of knowledge of the role of unions. They should therefore be educated on the benefits of the union through mentoring programmes. 6.2 Teachers' unions should become more involved in discussions concerning national budgets. 6.3 Teachers' unions in all jurisdictions should work to elect governments whose ideologies are grounded in democratic principles and are accepting of and dependent upon strong public education systems. 6.4 Teachers' unions should insist that governments develop the 'political will' to give increased priority to public education by providing higher levels of funding to that sector. 6.5 Teachers' unions should apply pressure that will move governments to take critical actions such as:
  • Increase in salary and benefits to teachers
  • Move towards professionalization of the teaching profession
  • Improve working conditions of teachers
  • Provide professional and other support services to teachers
  • Provide full funding for education up to the higher education level
6.6 A larger percentage of the appropriate budget should be allocated to improve the physical structure of school buildings and the maintenance of safe and health school environments. 6.7 Adequate resource materials should also be made available for teachers. 6.8 Teachers' unions should take a firm stand against corruption in private and government entities to ensure that much needed funding becomes available for all levels of education. 6.9 CUT should lobby CARICOM governments to put pressure on the Haitian government to provide quality public education to its citizens. 6.10 Teachers' unions are to participate in the election process to elect governments which will support and fund quality public education. 6.11 Teachers' unions should promote partnerships that will foster parental involvement in schools and education. 6.12 Teachers' unions should have consultation with stakeholders to apprise themselves of ICT software license requirements. 6.13 Teachers' unions should advocate for the removal of ceiling on salary scales to allow for proper compensation of teachers who pursue continuous professional development. 6.14 Teachers' unions should advocate for the development of HIV/AIDS Policy for schools and other workplaces.

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