The coronavirus pandemic has upended many aspects of life, including education, around the world. Many students and teachers are still out of school, vaccine distribution is very slow, virus variants are developing, and the future course of the pandemic is uncertain. In particular, teachers have been greatly affected by the pandemic, facing stressful challenges in their personal lives, while needing to develop new ways of facilitating learning and addressing the socio-emotional needs of their students.
However, even before the pandemic, our world was at a crossroads. We face multiple, truly existential crises – life-destroying poverty and inequality, climate and environmental catastrophe, systemic global racism and sexism, widespread violence, war, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. We desperately need to find alternative ways of living and being if humanity is to survive, let alone to thrive. Education must be seen as embedded in these crises and as key to their transformation.
The Alternatives Project (TAP) was initiated in August 2019 by a group of 20 progressive academics, union leaders from Education International, and other civil society activists, who are frustrated by decades of neoliberal education reform and the complete abandonment of education as the basis for just and democratic societies. We felt it was important to seize this unique historical moment and be part of struggles and efforts that are ongoing in different parts of the world that seek to reconceptualize and radically change public education as an entry point to deeper societal transformation, and find ways to amplify these. In short, we began planning for a radical rethinking of education and building on advocacy campaigns that place sustainable ecosystems and climate justice along with social justice at the core of radically redesigning education, economic, and political systems.
The Alternatives Project is an international and geographically diverse network of progressive academics, union members, civil society activists, and social movement participants concerned with building a global collective critical voice oriented towards education and societal transformation at the local, national, and global levels. We seek to contribute to efforts that collectively challenges dominant ideas and policies on education and development, through grassroots struggles and campaigns. We envision a long-term initiative to build and promote a new vision of alternative approaches as well as a clearinghouse for alternative ideas and actions championed by a wide range of progressive and radical organizations and movements that will become a force for equitable learning opportunities and outcomes, participatory democracy, as well as economic and social justice in a more sustainable world.
As a first step, we put together a sign-on statement intended to show the world that there are many, many people who have fundamental concerns about the current directions of our education, economic, and political systems. The Statement, entitled “ Education Justice for Societal Transformation: A Framework for Action.” is available in 13 languages. We have over 300 signers (including Noam Chomsky) from around the world. An excerpt follows:
Teachers are the backbone of education and need to be the source of its transformation. We invite you to join us by signing the Statement and by getting involved in TAP!
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.