North America-Caribbean

published 25 April 2017 updated 8 May 2017

North America-Caribbean's report

CIES 2017 in the USA

EI’s research work related to the Global Response campaign on the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education was showcased at the Comparative International Education Society(CIES) conference in Atlanta, from 5-9 March. EI presented research projects to an international research audience and built strategic alliance for its future research activities.

A highlight at the conference was the presentation to Antoni Verger, Clara Fontdevila and Adrian Zancajo of the 2016 Globalisation and Education Special Interest Group (SIG) book award for the EI-commissioned book, The privatisation of education: A political economy of global education reform.

Also, against a backdrop of deprofessionalised and demoralised teachers around the world, EI research on teacher unions in challenging times, carried out by Nina Bascia of the University of Toronto, was the focus of a panel discussion on “Teacher unions and university academics: Unlikely Bedfellows”.

Conscious of the serious need for research on technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and the importance of an independent focus on it, EI commissioned a two-phase study which was presented to the conference. “ Global Trends in TVET: a framework for social justice maps out the current state of play” shows a TVET sector firmly grounded in the SDGs, analysing the impact of various TVET systems on students and investigating the impact on marginalised students.

More attention to professional standards in Jamaica

From 18 to 20 April, the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), representing 21,000 members in all education sectors and one of the largest EI affiliates in the Caribbean, brought together teachers from all over the island to discuss ways to improve their professional practices.

During the event, legal experts, children's rights advocates, law enforcement officers, social media specialists briefed delegates on topics related to teaching and schools. The participants were also updated on the use of new technologies, including robotics. Some 250 educators attended the conference, which was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

In his opening remarks, JTA President Howard Isaacs told the conference that the Jamaican teaching profession has an important responsibility improving professional standards and education quality. The association is planning  to step up its work on professional issues.

The keynote speaker, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, said that the commercialisation of education services and the de-professionalisation of teaching are the most important challenges facing the teaching profession globally. “Although the Caribbean has a proud history of promoting public education for all, when confronted with budgetary constraints, your governments may be tempted to open their national school systems to market forces. You must try to prevent that,” van Leeuwen stressed, adding that “we are not against partnerships with the private sector. On the contrary, we need  businesses building our schools and producing teaching and learning materials. Where we draw the line is where corporations start running our schools on a for profit basis causing social inequity, or where they would invade teachers’ professional space and tell us what and how to teach.”