published 24 September 2018 updated 9 October 2018


G20 Labour and Education ministerial meetings

Education International (EI) participated in G20 Labour and Education ministerial meetings, held from 4-6 September in Mendoza, Argentina.

Prior to these events, EI held a Right to Education event on 3 September in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in solidarity with national affiliates as they struggle against an increasingly hostile labour environment.

Read our statement to the G20 Education and Employment Ministers here

Seminar on the future of the teaching profession in Africa

Continuous professional learning and development and professional standards were the key issues discussed at the Seminar on the Future of the Teaching Profession in Africa: Teacher learning, professionalism and growth. This seminar, organised jointly by EI, The Open Society Foundations (OSF), and the University of Johannesburg, was held from 28-29 August in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The seminar aimed to increase unions’ capacity to lead the narrative and policy framework around teacher professionalism in their respective countries. It also sought to gear up the definition of standards for the profession through shared experiences from different contexts. This will reinforce the advocacy capacity of education unions on the ground and increase the quality of education in African countries. Much emphasis was put on the need to provide continuous professional development and learning opportunities in order to increase the level of teaching and, with it, the education system as a whole.

Project against child labour in Tanzania

A mission on child labour was organised in Tanzania, from 23-30 July, to follow up on the Tanzania Teacher Union’s (TTU) project to develop a child labour-free zone in the Morogoro region. Supported by the German Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft  (GEW) Fair Childhood Foundation and coordinated by EI, this project contributed to a TTU-developed training manual on child labour. The union trained TTU local leaders, village civil servants, 16 teachers and eight headmasters on the concept of child labour and possible actions at local level to eradicate child labour. Trained teachers visit the parents of out-of-school children and people employing child workers, and villagers’ groups have also been created to raise awareness about the importance of education. The TTU has also facilitated the creation of a school club in each school targeted by the project. These clubs organise games and sports, and develop songs and drama to make the schools more attractive and discourage school dropout.

Since the beginning of the project in August 2017, 58 children have been removed from labour and integrated into schools, and school dropout rates have drastically reduced. The TTU reports a reinforcement of social dialogue at local level, and improved interaction between teachers, parents, and students. Teachers further report that school results are starting to improve.

Solidarity with US affiliates after the Janus vs. AFSCME case

EI encouraged affiliates to show solidarity with US colleagues in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) after the US Supreme Court ruled in June that US unions will lose “agency fees”(or “fair share fees”) paid by non-unionised workers who receive benefits and protections from the union.

The ruling came in the Janus vs. AFSCME case which had been heard in the US Supreme Court in February. The Janus case was the result of a targeted multi-million-dollar campaign to dismantle the power of unions in the United States, and includes a public relations campaign to push union members to turn their backs on their organisations and drop their membership. This case will have a serious impact on both US unions and the global labour community, and could become an example for conservative governments seeking to weaken trade unions.

ILO International Labour Conference 2018

The EI  delegation to the 107th session of the International Labour Conference, held from 28 May-8 June in Geneva, Switzerland, included representatives from Botswana Teachers' Union (BTU) and Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA), Force Ouvrière(FO)/France, Colegio Profesional "Superación Magisterial"(COLPROSUMAH)/Honduras, Teachers' Union of Malawi (TUM), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación(SNTE)/Mexico, Syndicat National de l'Enseignement Elémentaire(SNEEL)/Senegal and Somalia National Union of Teachers (SLTU).

In addition, issues affecting teacher unions were covered at the Commission on the Application of Standards for Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Greece, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Samoa, and Serbia. Contributions had been received from EI affiliates of all these countries (except Mexico).

Addressing the ILO Plenary Assembly on 4 June, an EI representative highlighted teaching as a profession and the issue of violence at work. Meetings with union representatives from Algeria, Bahrain, Belgium, France, Georgia, Honduras, Italy, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and the United Kingdom (UK) were also organised. EI also cooperated with Public Services International (PSI) on five country reviews, and there was an increased presence and contribution by global union federations (GUFs) (EI, PSI, International Transport Workers' Federation, and IndustriAll) overall.

WIPO and copyright

EI promotes global copyright reform at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to ensure fair access to and use of copyrighted works for quality teaching and learning for all. At the 36th session of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, held from 28 May-1st June in Geneva, Switzerland, EI organised a side event with members of its affiliates from the Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia teachers’ union and the Canadian Association of University Teachers. EI shared how copyright has an impact on education and what needs to be considered to achieve a balanced approach to copyright legislation that equally considers the rights of creators and users.

EI’s long-term objective at WIPO is to secure a Treaty on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations For Educational And Research Purposes (TERA). This could be a major step towards ensuring that teachers and students have a minimum set of rights to use and build upon creative works for the purpose of education and research.

To raise awareness about copyright, EI is developing a toolkit, “Copyrights and Copywrongs in education and research - An education union guide to fair copyright for quality education, research and the public good”. It also advises on copyright-related issues and national-level reforms.

First EI Education Support Personnel Conference and ESP Day

EI’s first Education Support Personnel Conference was historic as it was the first time that the education support personnel (ESP) community gathered at a global level to discuss common needs, challenges, and priorities. The Conference also celebrated the first-ever World ESP Day on 16 May, which is set to be an annual event. It unanimously endorsed the Declaration on the Rights and Status of ESP, highlighting the work and contributions of ESP to quality education systems across the globe, and demanding that their rights be respected.

This event showed that ESP are a high priority for EI. The organisation will continue to defend the rights and status of ESP and encourage ESP representatives globally to collaborate and learn from each other.

14th EI ResNet meeting: Research Refine Resist - unions on the move

Teacher identities (new EI Research Institute’s study), Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.c teacher target, teachers’ status, and continuous professional development were among the issues discussed at the EI Research Network meeting, held from 7-8 May in Brussels, Belgium. In addition, research on trade and copyright as well as research methodology also featured on the agenda. Participants were invited to provide feedback and develop ideas on how to improve global and national-level surveys. Furthermore, ResNet explored communications and media strategies, and discussed qualitative research methods that unions can use to support their members. Participants also started preparing for the 8th EI World Congress.

“United for Quality Leadership in Schools” Conference

EI convened a “United for Quality Leadership in Schools” conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24-25 April.

The conference was officially opened by the South African Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mohammed Enver Surty. He answered positively the  EI’s request for him and his government to help persuade UNESCO, the African Union, and other intergovernmental organisations to prioritise inclusive equitable quality school leadership.

Among the issues discussed were the training and professional development of school leaders, and empowering teachers and women to exercise leadership. In addition, participants highlighted the challenges of limited training and professional development opportunities for school leaders, and the failure by governments and the UN to prioritise school leadership.

Recommendations from the conference included that:

·         EI should carry out a global study on school leadership to collect data and evidence to support EI and affiliates’ advocacy work and other activities

·         EI should work with UNESCO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to develop a school leadership policy guide/framework, which could inform the development or strengthening of national leadership policy and practice

·         EI should organise an annual school leadership conference

·         Governments should ensure that all school leaders receive government-funded, contextually relevant and tailor-made leadership training/professional development and support

These recommendations will help move the school leadership agenda forward.

Protest against the harassment of former Brazilian President Lula

EI and its member organisations joined with its affiliates in Brazil to protest the miscarriage of justice that resulted in former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva being imprisoned on unsubstantiated charges.

In January, EI expressed concern over the long-standing campaign of defamation and political harassment against former President Lula. On 29 March, EI urged Brazilian President Michel Temer to ensure that the principles of democracy and human rights are respected, as Brazil’s Supreme Court denied Lula freedom while he awaited final judicial decisions on his appeals. Lula was eventually found guilty by the appeals court and imprisoned on 7 April. EI invited its member organisations across the world to join the ITUC global action day on 23 April in support of Lula and democracy in Brazil.

Lula was finally disqualified from the presidential elections by the Superior Electoral Court on 31 August.

EI also condemned the climate of increasing violence against human rights defenders in Brazil. The killing of politician and human rights activist Marielle Franco was referred to by the UN as an attempt “to intimidate all those fighting for human rights and the rule of law in Brazil”.

8th International Summit on the Teaching Profession

A successful International Summit on the Teaching Profession was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from 22-23 March, where EI partnered with the Portuguese Government and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

A good opportunity to discuss the teaching profession between those who represent teachers and those who represent governments, this year’s summit focused on pedagogy and teacher wellbeing. “Schools at the Centre of their Communities”, “Pedagogies for the Future”, and “Teachers’ wellbeing, confidence, and effectiveness” were the themes of the summit. Sixteen government ministers attended, as well as EI affiliates.

Response to the World Bank's WDR 2019

In light of the early drafts of the World Bank (WB) World Development Report 2019, EI and other civil society organisations have advocated for the Bank to stop disregarding labour rights in its discussion of the future of work. The International Trade Union Conference (ITUC) presented the WB with EI's detailed comments on the Bank’s position on issues related to education.

The neoliberal approach adopted by the WB in the WDR 2019 is highly problematic for all workers, including education workers.

EI’s advocacy efforts seek to influence the WB to reconsider its report and not ignore teachers' basic labour rights. Key issues for advocacy include: teacher employment conditions, precarious contracts; the status of teachers; early childhood education (ECE) policy; technical and vocational education and training (TVET) policy; and instrumentalisation of education.

EI is also continuing to monitor the progress of the WB’s human capital index and plans strategic advocacy interventions in relation to this project.

Read the General Secretary’s open letter to the World Bank here

Action against the repression of indigenous peoples in the Philippines

EI joined the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in denouncing the repression in the Philippines against indigenous peoples, and supported a petition launched by indigenous and human rights organisations.

This was in response to a move by the State Prosecutor of the Philippines to have teachers, indigenous peoples’ leaders, and human rights defenders declared terrorists and outlaws. The list of alleged terrorists included the ACT Regional Coordinator in the Cordillera region, as well as UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

Support to teachers in Turkey

Repression in Turkey has intensified following the failed coup d’état in the country in 2016. More than 37,000 education workers have been affected (dismissed or suspended) so far by the purge initiated by the authorities. Eğitim-Sen and KESK members are still being arrested on grounds related to their union activities. Elif Çuhadar, treasurer of Eğitim-Sen, who was a panellist at the EI Conference on Refugee Education, was arrested in Ankara on 6 February. Six Eğitim-Sen local branch leaders and members were also arrested in Izmir in March.

In a joint letter, EI and PSI denounced the further dismissal of 18,632 public workers under the latest emergency state decree law No 701 on 6 July. Furthermore, 658 additional education workers were dismissed from the Ministry of National Education, including 26 Eğitim-Sen affiliates and 20 academics who had signed the “Academics for Peace” declaration.

EI, ETUCE, and member organisations continue to extend solidarity to Turkish education workers and intervene at national, European, and international levels.

Support to imprisoned trade unionists in Iran

EI has urged the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mohammad Habibi, Esmail Abdi and other imprisoned trade unionists. This call comes amid the continued harassment, persecution, and criminalisation of Iranian trade union activists by the authorities.

EI also called on the Iranian authorities to end the misuse of the criminal justice system against those who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association.

Many affiliates and individuals signed the online petitions launched by EI on LabourStart in support of Iranian teacher unionists. EI also supported an ITUC appeal for solidarity action with trade unionists in Iran.

EI also launched a LabourStart campaign to request the immediate and unconditional release of Mohammed Habibi and demand respect for trade union rights in Iran.

In addition, EI invited its affiliates and concerned citizens to stand with Esmail Abdi by signing Amnesty International’s petition demanding his immediate release. Teacher unionists in the UK awarded Abdi the 2018 National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) International Solidarity Award, recognising the tremendous courage he has shown for the cause of Iranian teachers.