Over 140 union delegates from South Asian countries including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal came together to reflect and learn from each other to play an active role in transforming education in South Asia.
The delegates were part of Education International´s South Asia Teachers Conference, held from 11-13 June in Kathmandu, Nepal, under the theme: Go Public! Fund Education.
The delegates discussed the financing of education-including the challenges posed by the growing privatisation and commercialisation- the rights of teachers, the increasing casualisation of the profession and issues of pay, pension, and social security.
“There is a teacher shortage emergency. A shortfall of nearly 70 million teachers worldwide, including more than 1 million teachers in primary schools just in India alone, and 65,000 in Nepal. Hundreds of millions of the most vulnerable children remain excluded from education. Girls are disproportionately affected,” stated EI’s President Susan Hopgood. She also highlighted the crisis in education funding and the teacher shortage —hand in hand with short-term contractual employment— as some of the main challenges to achieve quality public education for all.
In addition, Hopgood explained that austerity policies and public wage bill constraints in the region, imposed by International Financing Institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), exacerbate teacher shortages and decrease the attractiveness of the profession: “By deliberately constraining the ‘teacher wage bill’, global financing agencies block teacher recruitment and salaries, further depleting the corps of professional educators. “
To address these challenges, Hopgood went on to say, “it is time for teachers to, once again, mobilise and raise our voices for a new social contract. That mobilisation is well underway in the Go Public, Fund Education campaign launched earlier this year by Education International”.
The campaign is an urgent call for governments to prioritise public education and invest in the teaching profession to ensure a brighter future for all. “Governments must invest in public education by both increasing the size of national budgets and increasing the share of finance going to education. We call on all governments to invest in teachers, invest in education”, Hopgood concluded.
On the last day, the Conference issued a statement with four key demands addressed to leaders of South Asian countries:
1. Governments must recruit and retain more teachers;
2. More professional training for teachers is needed;
3. Teachers must have job security and pension, medical benefits;
4. Invest in public education.
To read the full statement of the 2023 Education International´s South Asia Teachers Conference please go here