Executive Board adopts resolution on the role of education in stimulating critical thinking and freedom of expression and promoting democracy

published 28 October 2020 updated 16 July 2024

The 56th meeting of the Education International’s Executive Board, meeting virtually on 27 October, adopted a resolution in support of teaching about freedom of expression, free discussion, and critical thinking, all of which equip students to be active citizens. The resolution was adopted following the atrocious murder of French history and geography teacher Samuel Paty on 16 October for having exercised that vital education responsibility.

After reaffirming that “teachers must enjoy professional autonomy, academic freedom, and the right to choose the teaching and learning methods and materials they use, thereby defining, through the democratic process, the criteria for the quality of their work”, the resolution resolves:

  • “To give its full support to French affiliates, and to all education workers around the world who are subject to acts of violence directed against education and its role as an engine of democratic emancipation.”
  • “To call on Ministers of Education worldwide to take concrete measures to protect and support education staff, including improved initial and continuing training, to put mechanisms in place to foster solidarity among the education community, and to identify and respond rapidly to threats and violence at all levels of the education system.”
  • “To call on States to promote living together in harmony and to take strong measures to reduce social inequality, unemployment, and poverty, which lead to despair and provide a fertile breeding ground for the growth of violence and fanaticism.”
  • “To call on member organisations to integrate even more strongly into their national and regional activities and demands the issues of teachers' pedagogical freedom, e.g. the teaching of critical thinking as a fundamental objective of the school curriculum.”
  • “To request Education International to provide their affiliates with access to research and analyses on critical thinking and freedom of expression issues and to exchange good practices.”

Introducing the resolution, General Secretary David Edwards reported on the wave of international solidarity shown by member organisations and others with Education International’s French affiliates. He reflected that, in these dark times, this atrocity forces all who care about rights and democracy to focus on the crucial role of teachers in supporting critical thinking, freedom of speech, science, the truth, a broad vision of education, and the promotion of democracy.

Other members of the Executive Board supported the priority of defending teachers and the role of the profession and democracy which, in too many countries, is in danger. Education International will examine ways to gather and share information on these vital issues, continue the discussion, and take other action.

Edwards’ blog post, “The Teaching Profession: The light that illuminates darkness”, is also available here