Around 320 participants from 131 education trade unions from 48 countries, representing more than 11 million teachers and education personnel across Europe, gather in Belgrade, Serbia, to set the course for European education policy debates for the next four years.
The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), Education International’s European Region, has identified a number of policy areas that the European education trade union movement will need to tackle in times of radical economic and societal changes and major challenges.
“Unity among teachers and all education personnel is the prerequisite to face the challenges that the economic crisis has inevitably brought about, such as decreasing investment, weakening of social dialogue and increasing right-wing radicalism and fundamentalism” said Martin Rømer, ETUCE European Director. “The ETUCE Conference will bolster the principle that we, as ETUCE and EI, have been in the front line to ensure solidarity among education workers and to guarantee that education is considered crucial for the future of Europe, to reinforce social justice and tolerance, to build greater respect for human rights and to strengthen and deepen healthier democracies, which do not fall prey of economic, lobbying and business interests”.
Migration, trade, ICT and privatisation are among the topics to be discussed during the conference.
In her address to the opening plenary, Education International President Susan Hopgood looked at the current political situation in Europe through a global lens.
“As education unions, I believe that we have both the power and responsibility, and that is key, to weather this storm and defend and promote the values that help bring us together,” said Hopgood. “Being a teacher is about moral purpose; about a commitment to making a positive difference in young people’s lives. And that commitment is on full display every day around the world, despite our shifting politics.”
Hopgood talked about the commitments that EI has made to counter extremism and to address refugee education, major topics that were a part of the organisation’s conference on the same topic in November in Stockholm. Read the president's remarks in full here.
The Regional Conference will run from 6 to 8 December, and will also see elections for the Region’s governing bodies.