Education International has pressed on European and North American governments to ensure inclusive quality education for all children, young people and adults by investing in education and teachers.
The Education International (EI) message was conveyed at a consultation meeting on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Europe and North America, convened by UNESCO in Paris, France, on 24 and 15 October.
In his opening remarks Qian Tang, UNESCO’s Assistant Director - General for Education, challenged governments to indicate how they were planning to implement SDG4 on quality education in their own national contexts and to provide support to least developed countries. Tang went on to highlight some of the challenges in the region, including inequitable participation in education by refugees and migrants.
Gabriela Ramos, the OECD’s Chief of Staff, provided an analysis illustrating the progress made by OECD countries towards the achievement of SDG4. The analysis demonstrated that the vast majority of developed countries have not yet met the SDG targets, in particular those related to equity and quality.
Fourteen countries provided progress reports, highlighting key national priorities, notably, teachers, equality and inclusion and the education of migrants and refugees, among others. In addition, the government representatives considered global citizenship education crucial for addressing challenges related to inclusion.
Speaking on a panel on quality education and learning outcomes, Cassandra Hallett DaSilva, Secretary General, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, highlighted the critical role of teachers in the achievement of SDGs. She stressed the needs for governments in Europe and North America to strengthen teacher education and professional development programmes in order to equip teachers with the skills they need to meet the diverse needs of learners, including those of migrants, refugees and learners with disabilities and special needs.
DaSilva argued that effective professional learning combines many qualities, in particular, the following:
- it is reflective, interactive, practical, continuous, teacher-driven and embedded in teachers’ work;
- it encourages teachers to explore and take risks, to think actively and deeply about their professional practice;
- it engages teachers in collegial and collaborative dialogue; and
- and it is grounded in current research on teaching and learning.
“Governments need to recognize the importance of professional judgement, not only to improving professional practice, teacher motivation and retention, but to the overall quality of our education systems – to creating great schools for all children and youth”, she stressed.
Dennis Sinyolo, EI Senior Coordinator, Education and Employment, urged European and North American governments to invest in education and teachers by meeting global education financing norms, including the allocation of at least 6% of GDP or 20 % of the national budget to education. He urged donor countries to support low and middle income countries to achieve the education goal and targets by meeting the commitment to allocate at least 0.7% of Gross National Income to development aid and to ensure that at least 10% of that is allocated to education.
The EI delegation insisted that European and North American governments should come up with a clear road map for integrating the SDG commitments into their national education policies, plans and legislation and for supporting developing countries to deliver on the SDG – Education 2030 promise.
EI was represented by Cassandra Hallett DaSilva, Secretary General, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Canada; Michelle Olivier, National Secretary, SNUipp-FSU, France; Susan Flocken, ETUCE-EI European Regional Coordinator, Internal Policy Coordination, Occupational Health & Safety; and Dennis Sinyolo, Senior Coordinator, Education and Employment.