ILC 2018: EI makes the case for ensuring quality, non-discriminatory and non-violent work environments

published 5 June 2018 updated 6 June 2018

At this year’s International Labour Conference, Education International has reaffirmed the need for providing all workers, in particular, those in education, with respectful work places that ensure equality and non-discrimination, as well as social dialogue, in order to achieve quality education for all.

Equality, non-discrimination and social dialogue, cross-cutting elements

In her intervention on behalf of Education International (EI) at the 107th Session of the  International Labour Conference (ILC), held from 28 May-8 June, in Geneva, Switzerland, Secretary General Fatoumata Yafa of the Syndicat National de l'Enseignement Elémentaire(SNEEL-CNTS) welcomed “the choice of the cross-cutting elements of international labour standards, equality and non-discrimination, as well as social dialogue.

She regretted that, “these three elements are crucial and are often missing in the teaching profession.”

She commended ILO initiatives to support constituents' actions to strengthen social dialogue and to create decent jobs, for social protection, health, and safety at work and for education including vocational training for refugees.

Strengthening the capacity of trade unions to address technological innovation, climate change and demographic change are critical 21st century priorities for the International Labour Organisation (ILO), she noted.

Yafa also mentioned the ILO Committee on the "Future of Work" for the ILO Centenary, as well as the need to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. The Committee stressed the need for States to recruit and train 70 million new teachers, to enable all children, adolescents and adults to learn, without discrimination, in good conditions.

Decent work for all

Insisting that decent work is what teachers and education staff strive for around the world, she deeply regretted that “most governments and private companies, rather than supporting education, make it more difficult for educators to do their jobs”.

Kindergartens are rare and often inaccessible in emerging countries.  Primary and secondary education is often of low quality, with overcrowded classes, poorly trained and poorly supported teachers especially in rural areas. One teacher for 200 students in West Africa or South-East Asia is not uncommon.

How can we achieve the goals of quality education in these conditions? Yafa asked .

More female teachers needed

Our countries are short on female teachers; women who could be role models for little girls. Vocational training is often undervalued and higher education is inaccessible for the majority of young people.

Right to organise endangered

In addition to discussing education issues, Yafa highlighted the violation of trade union rights of teachers and other education personnel, given South Korea and Turkey as examples. She also severely criticized the fact that in many countries, teachers, as civil servants, are deprived of the fundamental right to form trade unions. That lack of protection has drawn the attention of the Committee of Experts and the Conference Committee on Standards.

New instrument needed to fight violence at the work place

Yafa called the attention of the Conference to the sad fact that students and teachers are victims of violence and harassment. EI hopes that all governments will support the adoption of a Convention covering this issue in 2019.