25 lessons for vision, progress and hope: Educators stepping up to defend democracy

published 23 July 2019 updated 25 July 2019

The second day of the 8th EI World Congress was dedicated to democracy and the ways in which education can support and protect it. The highlight of the day was the launch of “On Education and Democracy: 25 Lessons from the Teaching Profession”, a book co-authored by Fred van Leeuwen, Education International General Secretary Emeritus, and Susan Hopgood, Education International President.

Celebrating the 25 years of Education International, the book features 25 essential lessons from educators who work to defend democracy in a deteriorating context. Speaking of the book, van Leeuwen stated: “it serves to remind ourselves of the significant role we must play in promoting and protecting democracy and to recuperate the most important lessons we have learned throughout the history of our movement and, in particular, during the past 25 years.”

The lessons are, first and foremost, meant to support classroom teachers fighting their daily battles, confronting education authorities, governments and engaging with the community. “We appeal to their professional ideals, to their ambition to make a difference for their students and the societies in which they grow up. We seek to remind them that the values underpinning democracy, social justice and human rights travel through our classrooms,” van Leeuwen explained.

The book gives examples of breath-taking courage shown by educators and education unions standing up against the powers that be. It also warns that democracy is a process that is reversable and can easily slip away if not nurtured and protected.

Democracy has always been the cornerstone of the Education International mission: “Sure, democracy is about free elections, but it is about a lot more. It is the very basis of everything we want to achieve. It is about the way we live and inhabit our planet. It is about teaching and learning. It is about meeting human needs and enhancing justice and human dignity. It is about vision, progress and hope,” van Leeuwen concluded.

Listen to our podcast with Fred van Leeuwen on the 25 lessons.