With four years between each Congress and a vast amount of work accomplished by EI worldwide, General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, faced a difficult task in crafting his progress report.
The global economic crisis, which has dominated the political agenda in many countries around the world, also dominated the report. “Together with the other Global Unions, we strongly advocated for a new global economic architecture based on decent work, social justice and sustainability,” van Leeuwen said. In every international forum, EI has urged governments and financial institutions to invest in education, to make it part of the solution to the crisis, and not to make children pay the price for the greed and folly of a few.
Facing the “sledgehammer of the IMF” with its mantra of cut and privatise, EI and other global unions adopted a Charter and launched a campaign for Quality Public Services for All. The important work on Education for All continues: lobbying OECD countries to meet their funding commitments for the MDGs, supporting members suffering the consequences of hollow promises.
Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, a steep increase in violation of teachers’ human and trade union rights marks this period of crisis, van Leeuwen reported. EI has taken complaints forward to the ILO, the UN Human Rights Commission and other bodies about violations including threats, suspensions, fines, transfers, dismissals, arrest, detention violence and even murder.
Despite the risks, courageous teachers have helped to create fundamental change, for example in the Arab Spring movement, where EI has been involved in supporting member organisations in Arab speaking countries. Elsewhere, EI has continued defending teachers from efforts to de-professionalise their work. Restrictions on professional autonomy; the casualisation of teaching; punitive evaluation models; the rapid rise of standardised testing, and the aggressive incursions of the ‘education industry’ all pose threats to authentic teaching and learning worldwide.
To read Fred's speech in full, please click here.