When Commonwealth education ministers descended on the Bahamas this week to tackle the challenges of achieving quality education in developing countries, all ears were tuned in to hear what Education International had to say.
With the theme of “Quality Education for Equitable Development: Performance, Paths and Productivity,” the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) attracted more than 800 delegates, including Prime Minister Perry Christie, education ministers, senior education officials and teachers from across the Commonwealth to the the Bahamas from the 22-26 June.
In his welcome remarks, Perry Christie spoke about the power of education to prepare young people for responsible and productive lives - to fight crime, to improve health and life expectancy and to increase earnings. He stressed the need to ensure that regardless of their circumstances, all young people must get an education.
“Every child must count and none should be left behind”, he stressed.
This year marked the first time that Education International (EI) was given a prominent role, with President Susan Hopgood invited to give the keynote address. Through the continuing success of the Unite for Quality Education Campaign, EI has taken the voice of the world’s teachers to the highest levels of policy decision making.
“Our vision of quality education should thus be bold, broad and ambitious, and go beyond a narrow focus on test scores,” said Hopgood in her remarks.
The EI president turned her focus toward the Education For All and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to acknowledge the important lessons that must be learned as the world looks toward the future.
“Although notable progress has been made towards the achievement of EFA and the education MDGs, the 2015 Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) clearly shows that none of the goals will be achieved. Nearly 120 million children and adolescents remain out of school, and four out of five countries with the highest number of out of school children are members of the Commonwealth,” she said.
In his address to a joint Stakeholders and Youth Forum, Dennis Sinyolo, EI Senior Coordinator, talked about the need to promote and facilitate teacher and student mobility within and beyond the Commonwealth by removing such barriers as stringent visa and registration requirements. He argued for the harmonisation and recognition of qualifications across the Commonwealth and the need for Governments to protect the rights of migrant teachers and students by ratifying and implementing UN and ILO Conventions governing the cross-border movement of people.
“We need to create a Commonwealth without borders. A Commonwealth that facilitates rather than stifle the free movement of its citizens, particularly teachers and students”, he said.
The Commonwealth meeting comes only weeks after the World Education Forum (WEF) took place in Incheon, Korea, where education stakeholders met to address major challenges to quality education. In September, the United Nations will finalise the new Sustainability Development Goals, which now include education following sustained efforts by EI and its global partners.
Education International was welcomed by its affiliate, the Bahamas Union of Teachers.