Resolution on: Educators and Their Unions Taking the Lead

published 12 September 2019 updated 13 September 2019

The 8th Education International (EI) World Congress, held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21 to 26 July 2019:

(1) Concerned about the constant attacks on teachers, education support personnel and their unions in many parts of the world;

(2) Observing with concern that human and trade union rights, including freedom of association, the right to organise and collective bargaining are under constant threat and that many trade union leaders and members have been intimidated, jailed, tortured, silenced or murdered;

(3) Reaffirming that human rights, democratic values and critical thinking are central to human development and progress, and must be defended through global solidarity and mobilisation in a world where ‘alternative facts’, authoritarian regimes, fascism, racism, bigotry and hatred are on the increase;

(4) Concerned that as polarisation between and within countries deepens, hard won civil liberties, human rights and equality gains are rapidly being rolled back, and stressing that education can be an antidote to the regression of democratic ideals in society;

(5) Convinced that the world needs inclusive quality education, strong, democratic trade unions and other allies as never before;

(6) Asserting that teachers, education support personnel and their unions together with their civil society allies, are amongst the last bastions in society determined to defend free quality public education, democracy, human and trade union rights;

(7) Concerned that weakening the profession puts quality education in danger, that there are not enough teachers and education support personnel, that their initial and on-going training, qualifications and status are being diluted, and that there is a real risk that teachers may be replaced by unqualified personnel or by robots and ‘artificial intelligence’ and that their safety, freedom and professional autonomy are curtailed;

(8) Stressing that through their collective voice and strength in unions and professional associations, teachers and education support personnel play a critical role in promoting the continued provision of free quality inclusive public education for all and achievement of the SDGs;

(9) Stressing that education policy should be developed at the national or regional level and should be elaborated, through effective, institutionalised social dialogue that recognises the centrality of education sector workers and their expertise in policy development and decision-making processes;

(10) Reaffirming that attracting the best candidates and retaining qualified, motivated and experienced teachers and education support personnel necessitates an improvement in the status and image of the teaching profession;

(11) Asserting that teachers and education support personnel are central to defining ethical and effective teaching practice and the pre-requisites of teacher qualifications (pre-service) and ongoing (in service) professional development and support;

(12) Reiterating that education unions are best placed to define quality employment terms and working conditions for teachers and education support personnel, including remuneration, as well as defending and enhancing the teaching profession;

(13) Concerned that the notion of education as a human right and a public good is being challenged by edu-business and market ideologues on an unprecedented scale and about the emergence of new participants in the provision of education, its governance and administration;

(14) Observing that international organisations and profit-seeking corporations exert growing undue political and financial influence on national education policy debate, shaping it to advance their self-serving interests, promoting deregulation, undermining public education systems and paving the way for increased privatisation of education;

(15) Denouncing the serious and widening gap between the global education policy debate, the policies pushed by development agencies and other non-state actors and the reality of classrooms in all educational institutions; and

(16) Reaffirming that EI and its member organisations commit to union renewal and leadership, including through unity, solidarity and targeted outreach to young and early-stage teachers and education support personnel, and disadvantaged groups within education unions.

(17) The World Congress resolves to take the lead in:

(i) Promoting democracy, human and trade union rights, equity and social justice;(ii) Advancing the profession and reasserting the critical role of teachers and education support personnel in education and society; and

(iii) Ensuring the right to free quality public education for all.

(18) The World Congress urges member organisations to put pressure on their governments to take appropriate policy, legislative and other concrete measures to:(i) Respect and ensure democracy, human and trade union rights, including the right to organise, freedom of association and collective bargaining;

(ii) Protect and promote teaching as a profession and guarantee quality initial and continuous training for all teachers;(iii) Guarantee the right to free, equitable and inclusive quality public education for all at all levels (from early childhood to tertiary education), and ensure full implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 4 on quality education; and(iv) Provide public funding of education in order to ensure that schools and all education institutions have adequate resources to provide equitable, inclusive quality education in healthy, safe and secure teaching and learning environments.

(19) The World Congress mandates the Executive Board to:

(i) Intensify efforts to protect and strengthen public education systems and guarantee the fundamental right of every child, youth and adult to free, quality education;(ii) Assert our definition of what defines us as a profession, what constitutes ethical and effective teaching practice and what is required in terms of qualifications (pre-service) and ongoing (in service) professional development and support, along with remuneration and working conditions;(iii) Mobilise member organisations to put the reality of teaching and learning conditions at the centre of the education policy debate, at local, national, regional and global levels;(iv) Reinforce member organisations’ capacity to engage in education policy dialogue and develop proposals that respond to the national context and nationally identified priorities; and(v) Create further opportunities for member organisations to share experiences, demonstrate their capacity and assume a leadership role in the global education policy dialogue.