With a full slate of resolutions to be adopted, the first day of the European Trade Union Committee for Education Conference turned to the plight of refugees in Europe.
Views developed a harder tone as opening remarks and early discussions quickly shifted to the refugee situation in Europe. Those who spoke out criticised what they saw as the defensive, inadequate and sometimes racist treatment of refugees by politicians and governments. Support was expressed for the rights of children whatever their background and the need to confront racist attitudes within and out with education establishments. The message that schools are seen as the key to integration and a safe haven for children affected by conflict, was made abundantly clear.
ICT in education
Next up for delegates was the adoption of the ETUCE’s major policy paper on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in education. The adoption of the paper, which includes 53 recommendations, was supported by various speakers who stressed the need for teachers to determine the use of ICT and not be driven by it.
“Teachers need to take a leading role in defining education in a digital society," said Hege Valås from the Norwegian Teachers’ Union, UEN.
Many warned that there is a risk that others outside of public education will drive the ICT agenda for commercial reasons unless teachers assert their autonomy.
The ETUCE President, Christine Blower, was re-elected unopposed for a further four-year term. In her remarks she expressed her gratitude for the support given to her over the last term and said that she looked forward to constructive work with all involved for the coming period.
Information on elections being held on day two of the conference will be published when they become available.
The ETUCE Conference, taking place in Belgrade, Serbia, continues until 8 December.