Education International
Education International

Rio+20: EI representatives join labour movement activities

published 22 June 2012 updated 27 June 2012

Two big rallies were organised during the Earth Summit, Rio+20, gathering of world political leaders: the “World March of Women” against the “false green economy”, and the March of the “Peoples' Summit” on 20 June, convened by the CUT, the main Brazilian trade union centre in Brazil. EI was represented at these events by education activists and trade union leaders, Juçara Dutra Vieira, EI Vice President, and Fatima da Silva, Vice-President of the EI Latin American Regional Committee, both from CNTE/Brazil.

Challenging the UN and Governments

Numerous heads of state and Governments’ representatives, meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, sought to meet the high expectations surrounding this historic event, according to Dutra Vieira. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stressed that this was an opportunity to reflect on the current development model. This model does not consider the transverse perspective needed to approach various areas pertaining to the existence of life on the planet, especially life in society.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, summed up today’s challenges in three words: grow, include and protect. The billions of human beings inhabiting the Earth must have a sustainable growth plan for resources provided by nature. This growth has a meaning only if it is designed so that all men and women benefit from the development process. Therefore, it is necessary to protect natural resources and, at the same time, the most vulnerable people excluded or penalised by the model being currently implemented.

The role of education

EI also delivered the message that the paradigm shift required for the future depends on education. Indeed, if education does not focus directly on the economic model, it is impossible to transform reality. What is needed today is that nature be rescued and protected, that values should guide the interaction between individuals as well as between peoples.

EI alerted delegates to the fact that the persistence of illiteracy in various regions of the world represents a denial of the right to inclusion. This simultaneously impedes communities’ ability to promote development at levels actually compatible with scientific and technological developments. The same applies to the denial of women’s and girls’ right to schooling and education. Likewise, the devaluation of educators’ professionalism endangers communities’ rights to quality education. Therefore, EI noted that there are no real and efficient responses, and no far-reaching policies in key areas such as education.

The role of women

The crisis brought by the development model affects women particularly. Women are the first ones to be victims of the unrestrained exploitation of nature, the decline and casualisation of jobs, and increased violence, whether at home or in society. Gender inequalities are not limited to women, and are related to an eminently destructive conception of domination. That is why women are on the first line in the struggle against poverty, for quality food for all, education, health and housing, i.e. for what represents inclusion and quality of life for all.

The need for mobilisation

The debates that took place at the Rio+20 Summit raised related issues, which must be addressed immediately. Attention was drawn to greenhouse gas emissions and to the exploration of non-renewable or polluting energy. Discussions also focused on supply chains, cooperatives and solidarity organisations, issues faced by ethnic minorities, or the need to consider new technologies. In short, the emphasis was on the urgency of overcoming a model focusing on profit, rather than social outputs and employment.