Resolution on trade union action to counteract neoliberal policies on education

published 11 October 2015 updated 31 March 2017

The 7th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Ottawa, Canada, from 21nd to 26th July 2015:

1. Reaffirms EI's commitment to promote education as a fundamental right and a public good for all and to urge governments to be held accountable for their responsibility to provide free quality public education.

2. Notes with great concern the worrying developments that can be observed not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world about the expansion of neoliberal education policies under the pretext of dealing with the economic crisis. Budget cuts have resulted in a large reduction of public spending. In addition to that, privatisation and commercialisation of education services is a fast-growing global trend.

3. Expresses serious concerns about the increasing role played since 2011 by some international institutions such as the OECD, the IMF and the World Bank which keep on influencing the policies implemented in the education sector by national governments.

4. Notes that in the European region which is unique in terms of its supra-national institutions and structures, the Troïka, which has no democratic legitimacy, interfered in the definition of educational policies and the planning of educational structural reforms. Austerity measures still advocated by most European governments in Southern as well as Central and Eastern Europe severely affect the quality of public education and access to it and undermine the working conditions, remunerations and pension of teachers and education personnel.

5. Deplores, at global level, the ongoing pressures on public education budget that inevitably lead to the degrading of the status of the teaching profession. It is unacceptable to see the promotion of values such as competitiveness and « entrepreneurship ». The evaluation of schools and the assessment of teachers and students are often used by educational authorities as tools to reinforce control over the teaching profession and educational systems, in particular through the use of performance related pay schemes. Education is not a commercial enterprise that can be traded for private economic gain. The schools of the future should not deliver students fragmented knowledge and basic skills aiming at a sole objective, the transition from school to labour market. They should contribute to the preparation of the citizens of tomorrow.

6. Recalling the 2011 EI Resolution « Trade union action against neoliberal policies and austerity plans in Europe » and the 2014 ETUCE « Resolution on the impact of neoliberal policies on education » which both call for coordinated and united action by member organisations for a free and public education for all without discrimination.

Mandates the EI Executive Board:

7. To develop global response strategies to counteract the impact of neoliberal policies on education.

8. To continue its work towards international organisations that operate in the field of education. This includes UNESCO, ILO, the Global Unions and the OECD among others.

9. To collect, publish and disseminate data and evidence on the working conditions and salaries of teachers and education personnel including merit pay and performance related pay schemes. By establishing a Taskforce or working group on working conditions and salaries, EI will be in the capacity of providing an in-depth report to its member organisations, in order to develop coherent strategies to improve the situation.