UN Photo/Cia Pak
UN Photo/Cia Pak

Education International brings the voice of the teaching profession to the Transforming Education Summit

published 21 September 2022 updated 4 November 2022

Education International brought the voice of the teaching profession to world leaders at the Transforming Education Summit. The United Nations summit was convened to focus on education, and led to the creation of a Global Commission on the Teaching Profession.

“Transforming education is important because the solutions to every crisis we are facing begin with education. Whether it’s the climate crisis, the food security crisis, the democracy crisis or the conflict crisis, all can be traced back to education. We need to be ambitious but it is critical that financing matches the ambitions we are now setting.”

David Edwards | General Secretary, Education International

Representing over 32 million teachers and education support personnel across the world, Education International played a key role during the Summit’s thematic sessions, bringing key demands and proposals from classrooms everywhere to the United Nations.

A global movement to transform education

On September 19, Leaders Day, Mugwena Maluleke, Education International Vice-President and the General Secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union, took the floor in the United Nations General Assembly Hall to tell world leaders that only by working together with teachers and their unions, only by creating a global movement can education be transformed.

Watch his full message to Heads of State below.

During the Summit session dedicated to teachers, Education International President Susan Hopgood stressed the importance of social dialogue for transforming education. She stated: “The starting point for governments should be that teachers and their unions are their partners. Our partnership can enable truly resistant quality education systems. Our partnership can be the transformation.” Watch her full intervention below.

No shortcuts: investing in teachers is imperative

Speaking at the Summit session on financing education, Johanna Jaara Åstrand, EI Vice-President for Europe, warned that 69 million more teachers were needed globally to achieve quality education for all by 2030. “If we want to transform education, investment is the only way. There are no shortcuts. The only way to stop teacher shortages is through investment in the profession”, she added. Åstrand called for tax justice and for the International Monetary Fund to lift public wage bill constraints in all countries experiencing a teacher shortage. Watch her full intervention below.

Teacher leadership transforms education

Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association (United States), argued for teacher leadership and autonomy as critical elements of transforming education. “When I talk to members about why they want to leave the profession they tell me it's about respect, professional pay, teacher authority and autonomy. They want to be leaders in the classroom as they were meant to be,” she added.

Education must transform the world

Speaking during the Summit session on education for sustainable development, EI Executive Board Member and President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten highlighted the transformative power of wholistic education. “Education must transform the world, making it more just and sustainable, while solving the climate crisis. Not only must educators prepare students for careers, but we must be able to develop and nurture the whole child, so that they become the leaders who make a difference in society”, she explained.

Making technology work for all students

EI’s President also took the floor during the Summit session on the digital transformation of education. While recognising the potential of new technologies to accelerate progress towards SDG4, Susan Hopgood highlighted the profession’s concerns around equity and the risk of expanding digital divides.

She also noted that students’ and teachers’ right to data privacy, the commercialisation of education, and the increasing reliance on corporations to deliver a universal right and public good such as education calls for careful consideration and a strong governance. Involving teachers in the governance of education technology is imperative in order to ensure that these new tools truly benefits all students.

New International Commission on the Teaching Profession

A first concrete outcome of the Transforming Education Summit is the creation of an International Commission on the Teaching Profession announced during the Summit by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed.

"Teachers feel deeply disrespected and overwhelmed because they are constantly seen as tools rather than partners. A Global Commission on the Teaching Profession could illuminate solutions, many of which come from our profession itself, and match those with the political will and commitment required to meet this moment," explained David Edwards, EI General Secretary.

"The Commission is an opportunity to systematically bring together all the disparate strands of research and actions and weave them into a reinvigorated and clear social contract," he explained.

Edwards added the new initiative was a step in the right direction to ensure "that every learner has access to a professional, trained, and well supported teacher and that every teacher had access to the tools, time, and trust necessary to reach, teach, and inspire the generations and communities they have been entrusted to serve."