International Labour Conference: EI calls for social dialogue with teachers to strengthen quality public education

published 9 June 2023 updated 12 April 2024

Education is a fundamental human right and a key factor in achieving sustainable development. But to ensure quality education for all, the teaching profession must be recognised and supported.

This was the message delivered by José Olivera, president of Uruguay’s National Federation of Secondary Education Teachers (Fenapes), in his address to the International Labour Organization (ILO) on 9 June 2023, during the International Labour Conference (ILC), on behalf of Education International.

The International Labour Conference is the annual meeting of the International Labour Organization, the tripartite agency of the United Nations that brings together governments, employers, and workers to establish and supervise international labour standards.

Olivera referred to the report of the ILO Director-General, in which the word “education” is mentioned 20 times, while the word “teacher” is barely given a mention. “You know as well as I do that without teachers there is no education, let alone quality education,” said Olivera, recalling the crucial role played by teachers during the pandemic.

Olivera stressed the importance of social dialogue and the participation of social partners in the development of effective and equitable education systems. He welcomed, in this respect, the creation of the High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, announced at the United Nations Transforming Education Summit in 2022. “This first step reflects the much-needed political will to prioritise public education by increasing education funding and investing in the teaching profession,” Olivera highlighted.

Finally, Olivera called on the ILO to play an active role in the High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession and to continue to defend the professional and labour rights of teachers around the world while ensuring the right of all students to qualified teachers, a comprehensive curriculum, and appropriate learning environments.

“To achieve these objectives, the ILO must take on a leading role in ensuring, within the framework of social dialogue, spaces for meaningful trade union involvement in shaping public education policy, as well as ensuring respect for and the full exercise of trade union freedoms, which are currently being violated in a growing number of countries,” Olivera concluded.