The second theme examines the role of teacher unions and their relationship with governments in achieving policies which sustain and enhance the confidence of teachers. This has added relevance globally since the fourth of the International Summits on the Teaching Profession is taking place in New Zealand in March. The Summits’ continuing success depends on the ideas of mutual respect and joint action between teacher unions and governments.
For this reason I welcome Irina Bokova’s article in Worlds of Education. As Director General of UNESCO she works in partnership with Education International on the crucial task of enabling all children to attend school and be taught by qualified teachers. Shocking UNESCO estimates show that 250 million children globally are still not learning. Its latest Education for All report, however, sets out proposals which seek to enhance the quality and confidence of teachers in every country.
Dennis Shirley’s article is a powerful call for countries to support teachers in their professional associations and for teachers to stop talking about individual professional autonomy and start talking about the collective autonomy of a networked profession. Both Dennis Van Roekel and Diane Woloschuk argue that teacher unions are essential in achieving that collective autonomy with the US National Education Association creating its Raise Your Hand campaign to achieve that aim. Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir’s article argues that focussing on gender equality both for children and teachers is crucial to that objective.
Both Nina Bascia’s and John Bangs’ articles look at the crucial role of teacher unions in promoting the collective voice of the profession and the challenges which face unions particularly in their relationships with governments.
Finally, and last but not least, Graham Clayton reflects on the contribution of Steve Sinnott, former General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, to creating and achieving the Millenium Development Goals for all children. His tragic death led to the setting up of the Steve Sinnott Foundation. Its work in providing practical educational support to communities in developing countries is an inspiration.
I commend this edition of Worlds of Education. We welcome all comments and, indeed articles, requested or otherwise. Good reading!