Education International
Education International

Teachers given central role in post-2015 education debate

published 20 June 2014 updated 7 July 2014

Education and the post-2015 development agenda were the topic of discussion at a United Nations side event in New York City, where Education International had a seat at the table to put teachers in the spotlight.

As one of the primary stakeholders in the post-2015 development agenda debate, Education International (EI) was front and centre among 60 – 80 government representatives at the 12th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals on the 16th of May to influence what the future priorities should be, and what role teachers should play as part of the education goal.

Antonia Wulff of EI presented feedback from teachers and unions on the Working Group’s Zero Draft proposal, a near complete list of the potential post-2015 goals that will eventually be sent to the UN floor in 2015. Suggestions called for improvements to the teacher target within the education goal, including how it will be financed and implemented.

The EI proposal that the goal of “Equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all” be ensured by 2030, has a special focus on Target 6 of the new goal that governments must ensure that all learners are taught by qualified, professionally trained, motivated and well-supported teachers. The target was well-received by the Deputy Permanent representative of Brazil, H.E. Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, who stressed the “key role of education in sustainable development and human development.”

Dankert Vedeler, Chair of the Education for All (EFA) Steering Committee, went even further in his support for teachers as the “forefront of the education and training.” Vedeler said that the “future agenda must ensure that countries and partners invest in closing the teacher gap,” and that “a target on teachers is critical to achieve the entire education agenda.”

Wulff provided sufficient evidence that education holds a transformative power, which lights up every stage of the journey to a better life. From a direct impact on child health, mothers’ lives, child survival, to employment, tolerance, nutrition, economic growth, and the empowerment of women.

She used the opportunity to make it clear that teachers are one of the key pillars of quality education, yet their rights and position were neglected in the previous development agenda. This has to change in order to support the expansion of primary education that is taking place in many developing countries. Wulff stressed that without qualified teachers and sufficient infrastructures, quality education cannot be provided. In many countries, less than 50% of teachers are trained, and those who are have often received only a very basic tuition of 2 or 3 weeks.

The Open Working Group has now entered its next stage of negotiations, informal informals, which exclude civil society organisations from participating. However, EI continues to hold separate sessions apart from the official group.