Education International
Education International

EI President steps down after election to federal public office

published 21 September 2009 updated 21 September 2009

Australian teacher and trade unionist Susan Hopgood will take on the presidency of Education International following the resignation of EI President Thulas Nxesi, who has been elected to the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa.

Mr. Nxesi told the officers of EI at their recent meeting that, as a Parliamentarian, he will have to devote all his time and energy to advocating for his constituents and his party, the African National Congress. For that reason, he made the difficult decision to step down from his position as President of EI. First elected President at the 2004 World Congress in Porto Alegre, Mr. Nxesi was re-elected in 2007 at the Berlin Congress.

The officers of EI paid tribute to Mr. Nxesi, noting that he had served the teacher trade union movement at the national and international level with tremendous heart and dedication. “He has contributed so much to EI. We will certainly miss his wisdom and experience on the Executive Board, but we wish him all the very best in his new career,” they said.

The officers agreed unanimously that Ms Hopgood, EI’s longest-serving Vice-President, should assume the position of acting President, with immediate effect. At the next meeting of the full Executive Board, to be held in early December, they will recommend that the Board confirm her appointment as President until the next World Congress in 2011.

A former secondary school mathematics teacher, Ms Hopgood rose through the ranks of the teacher trade union movement to become a national leader of the Australian Education Union, which affiliates 181,000 teachers and education workers in pre-schools, schools and vocational education institutions across the public sector in Australia. Elected Federal Secretary of the AEU in 2006, she is the first woman to hold the position.

“Susan brings a great wealth of experience, both within EI and in the international labour movement, to her new position,” noted Mr. Nxesi. “We are fortunate to have activists with such skills and integrity to lead our organisation.”

First elected to the EI Executive Board in 2001, Ms Hopgood has served as a member of the Finance and Women’s Committees, and as Chair of the Constitution and By-Laws Committee. She was Vice-Chairperson of EI’s Asia-Pacific Regional Committee from 2000 to 2006. From 1998-2006, she was Vice-President of the Council of Pacific Education, and she is also a Vice-President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.