On 4 March, the Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö (OAJ), one of EI’s national affiliates, attended a meeting coordinated by the Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation, Pekka Haavisto, and also attended by other trade unions and NGOs, to discuss development cooperation issues. The main discussion theme was education and the post-2015 global development agenda.
At the meeting, all the representatives were unanimous in their view that teachers and their education, motivation, and skills represent the most important factor in education.
“It does not make any sense that, in some parts of the world, children are in school and do not even learn to read and right,” said Minister Pekka Haavisto. “It is important to focus on quality education and put the emphasis on vocational education in development countries. It is not a good idea to provide education to only the small elite. We have to make an effort to educate all people also in development countries.”
It is important that all young people find jobs, and they will not find them without vocational education, he added.
“A ‘Teachers without borders’ initiative is being developed in Finland,” OAJ President Olli Luukkainen also stressed. “Several NGOs, such as Church Aid, Ministries and, of course, OAJ are behind this initiative.”
He added that this initiative aims at developing multicultural education in Finnish schools. It will also give Finnish teachers the possibility of working as volunteers in development projects in developing countries and of using their skills to tutor their foreign colleagues.
“Like our Finnish colleagues, we want well-trained and qualified teachers to teach children, nurture future generations, and ensure a prosperous future for their societies,” said Martin Rømer, Director of the EI’s European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE). “Together with quality teaching and learning tools and environment, quality teachers are indispensable to achieve quality education. That’s why we commend OAJ for engaging in such development projects.”
He also reminded that public authorities bear the responsibility of ensuring that teachers receive proper training and decent living and working conditions, as a mean of guaranteeing quality education for all.