Under the slogan “We educate Norway”, the Union of Educators of Norway (UEN) has adopted an ambitious policy agenda that will shape the future of education in the country.
The policy document is the result of four days of intensive discussions during the union’s national Congress in Lillestrøm. Inclusion, diversity, climate change and sustainability were at the heart of the talks, alongside professional issues that ranged from pay to professional qualifications, and union-related matters such as cooperation with other organisations and membership growth.
Additionally, and according to a tradition established by Congress, a topic of special relevance was discussed. While in 2015 the topic was the refugee crisis, this year the assembly focused on climate change and on actions that the union could undertake in order to contribute to a sustainable future. According to Steffen Handal, who was re-elected President of UEN, the topic goes beyond “the climate crisis and encompasses the transition to a sustainable society – a major and extensive challenge that we have to contribute to with our efforts”.
David Edwards, Secretary General of Education International (EI), attended the Congress as a guest alongside other international delegates and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. In his address to the assembly he encouraged the Prime Minister to always count on UEN as a social partner, and admitted being heartened by her statement stressing the importance of the union’s international work. He praised Solberg for recognising the central role of educators in a time when both teacher unions and teachers' professional status are under constant attack. Edwards invited the attendants in Lillestrøm to organise in solidarity in order to address the numerous challenges ahead, from human rights and democracy to attacks on the profession and on free public quality education for all. “We can have the future we imagine if we follow three steps: organise, organise, organise”, he concluded.