Education International
Education International

Keynote address by Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary at the UNESCO General Conference held in Paris, 9 October 2009

published 9 October 2009 updated 9 October 2009

Below is the keynote address by Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary at the UNESCO General Conference held in Paris, on the 9 of October October 2009.

------ Mr President, Ladies, Gentlemen, Our organisation is the voice of some 30 million teachers and Education personnel who are members of our world affiliated organisations and who want to show here in front of you, their daily commitment, their struggle, often silent and ignored, that they make in order to meet the targets of Education for All, to deliver a quality education to all the children in the world. On 5 October, a few days ago, EI celebrated World teachers’ day with UNESCO, UNICEF and OIT in this building. Together we reaffirmed the «invaluable contribution they bring to children and to society as a whole, in particular in the context of the serious multi faceted crisis that we are going through. This celebration took place a few days after the Committee of Experts’ meeting on the Implementation of the Recommendations for teachers, during which we submitted a very detailed report which states that despite the fact that the Recommendations for teachers were adopted a long time ago, their main provisions are often ignored or are not implemented by governments and by educational organisations. This report underlines, in case it were necessary, the serious world teachers’ shortage confirmed by the last report published by the Institute for Statistics last week which estimates that by 2015, millions of teachers will have to be recruited most particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. This shortage of teachers is accompanied by a crisis of instability within the profession, a consequence of the frequent recruitment of poorly qualified or unqualified personnel, badly remunerated and whose basic rights are frequently flouted. It is not sufficient to simply celebrate teachers on 5 October; UNESCO, governments and all of the actors in Education must take long-term actions. Yesterday the ministerial plenary Forum examined the impact of the crisis and we sincerely hope that the recommendations will live up to the challenges and expectations. A few days ago also, young people who were present at the youth Forum reiterated that it was important to invest beyond the crisis, to invest in their development and for their future. Today and tomorrow, Ministers will examine the results and will learn the lessons from world conferences organised by UNESCO and its Institutes and will reflect on « what kind of education for the future? Mr President, political will and courage alone will enable UNESCO and its member states to make the difficult choices which are called for. Investments in social sectors most particularly in the educational sector must be protected and remain an absolute priority for governments and donors. We hope that the programme and the budget that you will adopt will reflect these choices and priorities. You cannot take the risk, in the face of history, to mortgage the future and make future generations pay the price for the crisis. EI and its members will continue to plead and fight for the Dakar goals and the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved and that investment in the educational sector and its personnel lives up to the magnitude of the challenge. In conclusion we thank the Chief Executive Officer for his commitment to education and we are always ready to pursue our cooperation with UNESCO and with all those who share our principles, our ideals and our values. Do not sacrifice education, teachers and young people on the altar of the crisis.