EI hosts its largest-ever seminar on Indigenous issues

published 5 December 2008 updated 5 December 2008

“Quality education and social justice for Indigenous peoples” is the theme of Education International’s Indigenous educators’ seminar to be held 6 December 2008 in advance of the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Melbourne.

The seminar will provide an opportunity to look more closely at how education in today’s global economy has been a major factor in the continuing process of assimilation, colonisation, cultural and linguistic genocide of Indigenous peoples. Importantly, it will also examine the role of education unions in addressing these issues in the industrial, professional and educational settings, and share models of unions working positively with Indigenous peoples.

More than 90 participants representing 25 trade union organisations from 15 countries have confirmed their participation at this event, which will be hosted by EI and its Australian affiliates: the Australian Education Union (AEU), the Independent Education Union (IEU), and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).

Susan Hopgood, Federal Secretary of AEU and EI Vice-President, will give the keynote address on “Global perspective on key issues for Indigenous peoples in education unions.” She will be followed by a panel discussion on “Quality education and social justice.” Panellists include Darcel Russell, AEU Deputy Federal Secretary; Govind Singh, General Secretary of the Council of Pacific Education and a coordinator in the EI Asia-Pacific regional office; and Lee Cooper, Te Awhina Arahi, Maori Officer of the Association of University Staff in New Zealand. In the afternoon, workshops will discuss the challenges for the next 10 years for education unions in indigenous matters.

The EI seminar falls under the 60 Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and under more recent policy framework, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007. The UDHR makes it clear that both freedom from fear and freedom from want are indispensable preconditions to live a life with dignity. Meanwhile the Indigenous Declaration addresses both individual and collective rights, cultural rights and identity, rights to education, health, employment, language and others.

Education International has adopted a number of resolutions related to Indigenous people’s rights, racism, cultural diversity and social justice. During the period of the International Decade of the World Indigenous Peoples 1995-2004, established by the UN General Assembly (1993), EI held several Congresses. At EI Congresses, in Harare in 1995 and in Washington in 1998, our delegates adopted resolutions on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. EI also has adopted resolutions related to cultural diversity. In November 2007, the EI Executive Board adopted the proposal to establish an Ad Hoc Steering Committee on Indigenous peoples and related matters 2007-2011.

“EI has recognised that it is essential to move from resolutions to implementation,” confirmed EI Deputy General Secretary Jan Eastman.

The EI Indigenous education seminar in Melbourne becomes an opportunity to be able to learn from each other here, in order to establish many more and varying effective partnership models between Indigenous peoples and mainstream education partners. In addition, it will be an occasion for members of the Steering Committee to advance its working plan, in particular the EI Indigenous Symposium in 2009.

Please kindly note that given its success, and available seats being limited, the registration for the EI Indigenous education seminar is now closed.