Education International 5th World Congress renews teachers' commitment to quality education and social justice
About 2,000 teachers and education workers from 160 countries around the world concluded a successful 5th World Congress today.
“We came together united by our shared concern for children, and for the future of democratic quality public education as a fundamental right for all,” said Education International President Thulas Nxesi. He echoed the words of Bundespräsident Horst Köhler, who called teachers “everyday heroes” in whom societies entrust their most precious asset – their children.
The theme for this Congress was “Educators Joining Together for Quality Education and Social Justice.” In keeping with that theme, delegates renewed their commitment achieving quality public Education for All by 2015.
“We are very focused on quality of education, and we going to become much more active in the area of professional development, teacher training, curriculum development and the setting of educational standards,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. He noted that the world is facing a serious teacher shortage, with 18 million more educators needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
“We are telling governments that they must invest in education, and make the teaching profession more attractive, or risk the education of future generations. But how can we expect young people to be attracted to a profession in which they cannot make ends meet, especially when they know very well that with their knowledge and skills they can earn much more in the private sector?” van Leeuwen asked.
Delegates passed urgent resolutions on a number of issues facing them as teachers, as trade unionists and as global citizens. They included resolutions on:
- Trade union rights violations in Ethiopia, where teachers have suffered assassination, torture, imprisonment, and persecution for many years;
- On aboriginal rights violations by the government of Australia, which recently brought in the army to seize control of 64 remote Aboriginal communities; and
- In solidarity with Iraqi workers and teachers, who have been killed and wounded in horrendous numbers.
Top priorities on the agenda of Education International in the next period involve continuing to uphold members’ human and trade union rights, and to defending them where they are violated. In specific terms, the organisation will:
- Commit 1.3 million Euros over the next four years for a comprehensive program to foster democratic education unions in the STAN countries and in the Middle East to help contribute to the peace process.
- Maintain its work for gender equity in education, while resisting ongoing and resurgent discrimination in a number of countries.
- Work to further strengthen its international solidarity programs, to support those combating repression, and to help those confronted by disasters.
- Build on its work on PISA, and develop its own indicators of quality in education.
- Continue its coalition work within the Global Campaign for Education, the Global March Against Child Labour, and its extensive work to prevent HIV and AIDS through education.
- To foster the new EI Research Institute so that it can play a strong role in achieving our goals in both industrialised and developing countries alike.
“It is an ambitious and comprehensive agenda, one we believe will make a difference in the lives of teachers and education workers everywhere,” said Nxesi. “The teachers of the world are united as never before and are committed to doing our utmost to provide strong and stable quality public education for every child.”
On Wednesday evening, delegates honoured Colombian teachers Samuel Morales and Raquel Castro with the Mary Hatwood Futrell Award for Human and Trade Union Rights, and Ernestine Akouavi Akakpo-Gbofu of Togo with the Albert Shanker Award.