Education International
Education International

Speech by Monique Fouilhoux, EI Deputy General Secretary, at 97th session of the Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labour Conference, in Geneva on 4 June 2010

published 7 June 2010 updated 22 March 2011


Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

Today, as it does every year, your Committee is examining the CEART Report which reviews the implementation of the two Recommendations concerning teachers. Two texts which constitute extremely important bases for tens of millions of women and men who teach around the world, bases to be linked up to the fundamental principles set out in the ILO Conventions.

This absolutely unique body to which teachers are very attached held its tenth session last September at UNESCO, against the background of the financial and economic crisis which continues to worsen in many countries.

At this session, CEART focused its work on the main themes relating to teaching and education in the light of the provisions of the two Recommendations. These are themes which are at the very centre of the concerns of teachers and all the players in the education systems:

• The social dialogue

• Teacher training-initial and continuing

• Employment and careers, teachers pay and the status of education and apprenticeship

• The shortage of teachers and the EPT

• Academic freedoms and employment conditions in higher education connected with the trend towards the privatisation of this sector, as the Committee has turned its attention more this year to the 1997 Recommendation in relation to the situation prevailing in this sector at present, which is the subject of numerous reforms almost everywhere around the world.

We support the efforts which CEART and its members are making to ensure the promotion and observance of the provisions of the Recommendations of 1966 and 1997 and to help solve the problems raised in the allegations.

On this point I should like to say that in the case of Japan we appeal to the Japanese government to apply the CEART recommendations approved by the ILO and UNESCO and to encourage a culture of social dialogue in the public sector. This implies establishing structures for consultation and concerted action at regional and national level. And we welcome the progress achieved recently since the last CEART meeting.

Our organisation contributed to the work of the CEART meeting by presenting a report and we can find a good many of our observations and proposals in the recommendations formulated by CEART. We also participated in the special session of exchanges organised with the representatives of international organisations and we support the request by CEART to find more time for these exchanges.

We share the observations made by the Committee and endorse the recommendations that have been formulated. I shall not go back over all the points but I would like to emphasise three points which in our opinion require immediate, concerted action, on the part of all countries and partners in education: The first concerns the world shortage of teachers, which cannot remain ignored, particularly during this period of financial and economic crisis around the world which has led to substantial budgetary restrictions in the various sectors of education.

Education plays a crucial role in preparing for the period of reconstruction which will follow the crisis, and it is essential to recognise this by investing in education on a world scale. Instead of this, it has to be acknowledged that we are seeing education budgets being cut almost everywhere in the world, which is having dramatic consequences for teachers pay, their employment and their very subsistence.

Secondly, teachers are also faced with a crisis in the increasingly precarious nature of their profession in all four corners of the world. A growing number of teachers are being recruited on the basis of fixed-term or part-time contracts, a practice which is leading to the restriction of their academic freedoms and their professional independence due to the undermining of their status, especially in higher education.

Ladies and gentlemen, we really must underline that budgetary reductions and the recruitment of teachers on precarious contracts impairs the provision of long-term quality education. At a time when there is a structural shortage of teachers, reducing teaching personnel and recruiting ‘low-cost’ teachers with a view to cutting expenditure are not sustainable measures and we run the risk of bringing about the deprofessionalisation of the education sector.

Finally, I would like to place emphasis on an aspect that is not dealt with in the report; it was addressed by the employers’ representative but was proposed by CEART as a subject with a high priority for its eleventh session, that is to say the upsurge in violence in school establishments and universities, particularly aggression against teaching personnel.

This violence which is currently targeting education professionals and intellectuals is unfounded, scandalous and morally unacceptable. It detracts from democracy but it also has dramatic consequences for the provision of education and the psychological balance of pupils and teachers.

In conclusion:

Most governments and educational establishments continue to ignore the existence of the two Recommendations and this negligence leads to serious violations of teachers’ rights at all levels. The ILO and UNESCO must take concrete measures with a view to guaranteeing effective implementation of the Recommendations, by both governments and institutions. In effect, we consider that the provisions of the two Recommendations remain fundamental to guarantee that all levels of education are recognised as public goods.

The Committee has made a number of Recommendations for all the parties concerned and we sincerely hope that everyone will shoulder their responsibilities. Therefore, we call on all parties concerned, governments, employers and agencies, to assume their responsibilities so that the relevant provisions of the two Recommendations are implemented in the framework of a dialogue with personnel and their representative organisations. We are open to and ready for this dialogue.

In adopting the Recommendations, governments recognised the fundamental importance for their society of the knowledge that we are all calling for highly qualified teachers, trained to prepare the future generations in the best possible conditions, future workers of course but also future informed and enlightened citizens who will guarantee a democratic society. And in this context I welcome the statement by the employers’ representative reaffirming the importance of education and training and their determinant role, along with the need to have well-trained and respected teachers enjoying a working environment allowing them to provide a quality education.

Thank you.