Participants have gathered at the EI Research Network meeting to discuss the global threats to unions from the reduction in public expenditure on education and privatisation, to testing and ranking systems that only tell part of the story.
The two-day event is being held in Brussels, Belgium, and is attended by representatives of EI affiliates from across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America who gather to hear about the latest research developments and share experiences from their own national and regional contexts.
EI’s Research Co-ordinator, Guntars Catlaks, opened the 7th Network event by reviewing the policy landscape that has emerged in education. He described the fiscal consolidation practises that have accelerated because of IMF pressures on governments to reduce deficit levels, and explained how this was leading to austerity measures in public services and a greater reliance on public-private finance initiatives. He demonstrated with examples how this was having the impact of teachers being asked to do more with less, creating precarious working conditions, with more insecure tenures, and a greater prevalence of performance related pay offers.
Catlaks explained to participants that EI’s focus continues to be on high-level ministerial meetings with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) because this is where education policies are largely being designed. He pointed to the fact that the seventh meeting had recently taken place and EI had used its participation to emphasise the need for more investment in education to secure economic benefits such as employability, earnings, and private benefits, as well as arguing the considerable social outcomes such as better health, political interest and inter-personal trust that result from it too.
Catlaks noted the new World Bank strategy paper which replaced ‘Education for All’ with ’Learning for All’ and encouraged Research Network participants to discuss this significant change. He described the need to “learn to measure what we value, and value what can be measured.”
Participants then critically engaged with presenters of research projects being undertaken by EI on education reforms and training for under-qualified primary teachers in India and Indonesia; schools at the margins in Central and Eastern Europe, and teaching under China’s market economy. They also discussed on-going research projects of the EI Research Institute which include: support for teacher efficacy, voice and leadership; the teaching profession in the 21st Century, and committed to supporting an EDUWEL project on the employments terms of doctoral students.
On the second day of deliberations, participants explored future EI research, as well as work being undertaken at the national level. They also heard from EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, who addressed the topic of research in support of EI objectives. Fred also pointed to the importance of research based evidence in building a case for protecting and extending universal education for all, and for strengthening the role of teachers. Both of these issues would be explored at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession that EI was co-hosting with the OECD and the US Education Department in New York.
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