World Education Support Personnel Day: Honoring their essential role for quality, inclusive education

published 14 May 2024 updated 16 May 2024

On May 16th, World Education Support Personnel (ESP) Day, Education International (EI) and its member organizations reiterate that education professionals – like teaching assistants, school nurses, cafeterias workers, maintenance crews, and bus drivers – play a crucial role in ensuring quality education and a safe learning environment.

Ensuring respect for ESP rights

Education Support Personnel are celebrated annually on May 16th to recognize their vital contributions to quality education.

While an ever-growing number of education support personnel are employed on a casual, part-time or limited-term basis, EI and its member organizations are particularly concerned about the increased exploitation of education support personnel, the absence of decent work conditions, and the violation of fundamental human and labor rights, such as the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Educa advocate for education support personnel to be guaranteed the right to a safe and healthy work environment, professional support and guidance as well as possibilities for career development. As education professionals, they must be able to contribute to and participate in decision-making in their educational institutions, particularly on issues directly affecting their jobs.

“Education Support Personnel are key to a safe, inclusive, healthy and positive learning environment. We cannot have quality education without them. They have the right to stable employment, fair salaries, and good working conditions,” stated EI General Secretary David Edwards.

EI research

This year’s World ESP Day will be marked by the launch of the research paper, “Carrying the Community: Addressing the Consequences of Privatisation and Funding Shortfalls for Education Support Personnel,” authored by Lucas Cone and Anja Giudici.

You can register here for the launch.

Among other findings, the study shows that precarious contracts lead to heavy and fragmented workloads and mean that ESP are less able to integrate into the pedagogical dimension of the school. It also explains that, in extreme cases, ESP’s roles are redefined as unnecessary or as ‘voluntary’ roles. Their work being devalued, ESP may choose to leave the public education sector.

“To achieve quality education for all students, in every school or university and in every country, we need to respect Education Support Personnel. Education International calls on all governments to uphold their labor rights and ensure their status as valued education professionals,” said EI President Susan Hopgood.

Fund ESP!

Adopted on May 18th, 2023 at the 2nd EI ESP Conference, the Aveiro Statement – “Go Public: Fund Education Support Personnel” also recognizes the need to invest in trained and qualified ESP that have good working conditions to ensure quality education for all. It calls for increased domestic and international public education financing and specific funding for ESP as part of EI’s Go Public: Fund Education campaign.

Global acknowledgement

ESP’s crucial importance in the education sector is further acknowledged at the highest international level.

Released earlier this year, the recommendations of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the teaching profession – where EI made sure the voice of educators was heard – state that “Education Support Personnel are key workers in education who should work interdependently with teachers and enjoy commensurate working conditions as teachers.”

Find out more about EI's advocacy work and ESP members here.

You can use the toolkit we prepared to mark World ESP Day.