Education International
Education International

Through teachers’ eyes Cambridge seminar looks at the 2030 education development goal

published 20 April 2016 updated 22 April 2016

With teachers playing an essential role in making quality education inclusive, equitable and a lifelong endeavour by 2030, Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education brought together leading policymakers to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Education International (EI), the Leadership for Learning Centre at the University of Cambridge, Open Society Foundations (OSF), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) came together in Cambridge, UK for “Thinking about Teachers, Teaching and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” from 18-19 April.

The event focused on Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development fromthe perspective of teachers and the teaching profession.

The line-up of speakers was led by Pauline Rose from the University of Cambridge, Montserrat Gomendio from the OECD, and EI’s Antonia Wulff as part of a panel on the impact of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The first measure of success is the extent to which the SDGs reflect the needs of teachers, students and the people, Wulff said, before giving the teacher perspective on the new agenda, its strengths and weaknesses.

By taking a humanised approach to the often statistically-heavy SDGs, Wulff brought the 2030 Agenda into the classroom to spark discussion on the dangers facing teachers and the education system. Among the dangers are cuts to public spending, the increasing privatised solutions bursting into the public sphere, which she said threatens the quality and equity of education systems, and fundamentally the achievement of SDG4.

By setting teachers at the heart of the SDG questions Wulff reconceptualised a policy environment in which teachers were able to build the solutions towards spanning the gap between system reality and the SDG goals.

“To do this we need to expand the scope of social dialogue and allow the experiences and expertise of teachers to shape the implementation of the SDG on education,” she said. “Teachers must be involved in the formulation of strategies for implementation.”

Though EI welcomes the specific SDG target on qualified teachers and the attention given to teachers as central to quality, the organisation cautions against expectations of teachers to sort out all of the systemic issues that education, or indeed society, is facing.  Teachers must be supported in the profession, through decent salaries and working conditions as well as continuous professional development and representation in policy-making.

Finally, she outlined EI’s priorities going forward.  Firstly, governments must demonstrate political will for implementation and integrate the SDG targets in their national education plans. Secondly, governments have to work with teacher organisations in defining and developing strategies. Thirdly, governments have to allocate sufficient financing to make SDG4 become a reality.