As governments strive towards a response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they must include investments in quality public education and the teaching profession, said education advocates during a webinar organised by Education International (EI).
The EI webinar for members organisations on education financing held on June 23rd, Public Service International Day, was to exchange best practices and discuss advocacy strategies to enhance investment in public education within national, regional, and post-Covid transformational plans.
A proper strategy for education recovery should include addressing recruitment and retention of teachers and education support personnel, as well as teacher wellbeing and work-life balance, which have both suffered during the pandemic.
Investment in teachers’ salaries, working conditions and continuous professional development is also crucial to navigate out of the pandemic. Participants also identified requiring special attention to the investment in technology for quality education.
Raise your hand for education
The online meeting kicked off with a keynote address by Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The GPE is both a partnership and a fund and works with governments to design Education Sector Development Plans and help them implement the plans and use the funds to fill the gaps in government funding.
The Global Education Summit of the Global Partnership for Education will take place on 28-29 July, with the ambition of raising at least US$5 billion for education. Education unions will play a critical role in ensuring that governments commit to funding quality, public education for sustainable recovery.
Albright’s intervention was followed by a panel discussion with Refat Sabbah, from the Global Campaign for Education, who shared insights on the successful “ One billion voices campaign” for education funding. There were also panellists from EI’s member organisations NASWUT (UK) and SYPROS (Senegal).
Empowering teachers to increase education funding
“If we are working together as trade unions, we can put more pressure on governments to increase education funding and target that funding more effectively. Success depends on empowering teachers. The collective voice of the teaching profession is fundamental. Social dialogue is key,” stated Jane Peckham, National Official in Scotland from NASWUT.
Marième Sakho, General Secretary of SYPROS, explained that education funding needs in Senegal remained widely unmet. To address this, education unions are putting the accent on mobilizing domestic funding through fiscal policy, an adequate management of resources, expenditure, debt, and the reorientation of tax niches.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may be an opportunity for unions to mobilise and get governments to fund education”, she explained.
In a breakout session, participants discussed how to update Education International’s Roadmap To Financing Quality Education For All in light of the pandemic context. The document, adopted by EI’s Executive Board in 2016, provides a detailed rights-based policy roadmap to sustainable, predictable and principled education financing.
EI will continue to work with member unions to advocate for quality public education and provide the tools for national unions to make sure investments in education a priority both at the national and international level.