Education International’s (EI) newly established task force on Education Support Personnel met for the first time in Brussels on 28-29 January 2014. The task force, composed of representatives of 10 affiliates, will advise EI on issues around the status, rights and conditions of education support personnel.
At the World Congress in 2011, EI expressed concern about the exploitation of education support employees and threats to their human and labour rights. The resolution adopted by Congress recognises their vital contribution to quality education but also the specific issues and challenges that they face, in particular in relation to the casualisation of their work and the privatisation of education support services.
Defining who Education Support Personnel are has been particular challenge for the task force; the group covers a broad range of professional categories that are employed and managed in various arrangements and only to some extent are organised by education unions.
The task force identified nine different categories of support personnel and agreed to use the term ‘education support personnel’ to cover them. In addition to the wide spectrum of roles and responsibilities as well as differentiated work conditions, EI’s mini-survey on education support personnel highlighted that education support personnel are rarely recognised as education professionals, or for their contribution to education and the school community.
The task force has placed education support personnel at the heart of EI’s campaign Unite for Quality Education, and discussed different strategies for making support personnel more visible across EI’s work and activities.
It will advise EI on how to better protect the rights and interests of education support personnel in different national contexts and recommend strategies for further developing EI’s work with this constituency. Particular attention will be given to strategies for reaching out to, and better representing, education support personnel.