France: Raise teachers’ salaries and invest more in public education, now!

published 20 March 2024 updated 27 March 2024

Education International (EI) President, Susan Hopgood, expressed the solidarity of the global education trade union movement with French colleagues at the National Congress of the Syndicat National des Enseignements de Second Degré (SNES-FSU). She also stressed that the demands of the SNES-FSU, including its call for the government to invest more in public education, to ensure fair and decent pay, and provide safe and healthy working conditions, are echoed all around the world.

A global education crisis

Speaking at the SNES-FSU Congress being held in La Rochelle from 18 to 22 March, Susan Hopgood emphasised the need to “prioritise education, placing it at the heart of all discussions, defending it within international organisations such as the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and UNESCO, and bringing together all those involved in education to put all our weight behind advancing our demands”.

EI, she added, is campaigning against teacher shortages, against the repeated attempts by many governments to drive down pay and conditions in education and to limit recruitment.

“We believe that education is a human right and a public good that should be accessible to all. Wages, working conditions, recruitment, we defend staff by working for quality education for young people.”

The EI leader also pointed to the insecurity and the conflicts that “affect children in particular, all those young people deprived of school, who suffer on a daily basis”.

The recommendations of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession

With regard to the “groundbreaking and unanimous” recommendations recently published by the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, she explained that, through the recommendations, “the United Nations is urging governments to address the global education crisis by elevating and transforming the role and status of the teaching profession. In its major finding, the Panel said the principal means of developing policies on education, teaching and the teaching profession should be based on a framework of collaboration, including collective bargaining. Critical issues of the education crisis, including the shortages of trained teachers, should be addressed collaboratively by governments, relevant financial authorities and representatives of teachers’ organisations, together. The Panel said that governments must increase investment and inclusiveness in public education systems, including quality teacher training and professional development, guarantees of labour rights and decent working conditions, involvement of teachers’ unions in policymaking, and trust and respect for teachers and their professional expertise.”

For EI’s president, the Go Public! Fund Education campaign “is connecting the crisis in funding to the sustainable world we want to create. We are deliberately placing our profession at the vanguard of real change, in our nations and communities.”

She concluded: “Our organisation, like all trade unions, and yours in particular, have a role to play in changing things, together, for a more egalitarian world with greater solidarity, through schools – quality, free, and secular schools.”

At the European level, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) has also launched the “Make Teaching Attractive!” campaign, calling for “investment in public education, to ensure good working conditions for staff and offer competitive salaries”, said ETUCE’s director, Susan Flocken.

“Together with EI, we are fighting the same battles. More than ever, schools must be an investment, not a cost,” she insisted.