Education International’s "Education in Crisis" Seminar, that took place from 18-19 October, 2012, united over 140 educators from more than 30 different countries in discussions that engaged different approaches aiming to enrich education systems all over the world, both during the current global economic crisis and for the decades that will follow. On 18 October, keynote speaker Professor Deborah Meier of the Steinhardt School of Education, New York University, highlighted the importance of education within democratic societies; the idea being that teacher unions must advocate for the return of democracy to classrooms, and that the restoration of teacher autonomy to the teaching profession must be the first step in that process. Keynote speaker Carol Bellamy, the Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, began the second day of discussions with a global focus, in that the future of education and development around the world will indeed flourish if governments concentrate the bulk of their budgets on educational spending during times of financial duress; this is especially important at the primary level because primary education is the most essential and fundamental tool for global citizens, as education inarguably leads to a reduction in the spread of diseases, poverty, social inequities, and violence.
Round table discussions and presentations from both days focused on the devastating impacts that the economic recession has had on education systems worldwide, particularly in Europe and in developing countries, as well as on policies that will address the sustenance of stability, growth and public funding for those education systems. Panellists addressed one another with different local perspectives from their countries, and attendees engaged participants with further views and questions about education at the local levels; the discussions at the local levels sparked new methods and approaches to addressing negative facets of education systems at both national levels and the global level. Some key messages that arose from the Seminar included the notion that teachers can more effectively protect education if they organise together in unions; that advocacy for democracy within classrooms can strengthen communication and understanding among people within democratic societies; and that global citizens should push to take control of the market that controls their society, so as to ensure a greater public investment in public services and education (through financial transaction taxes as a means to generate resources, and if they can make governments understand the need to invest in education.
A detailed report of the meeting can be found here: Education in Crisis Report
RadioLabour covered the event and compiled together audio excerpts from some of the speakers at the Seminar, which can be listened to here: http://educationincrisis.net/events/item/575-education-in-crisis
An EI news item on the Seminar can be found here: http://educationincrisis.net/events/item/575-education-in-crisis