Resolution on the Sustained Funding of Public Education in the midst of the Economic Crisis

published 25 July 2011 updated 31 March 2017

The 6th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, from 22nd to 26th July 2011: Principles 1. Recognising that education is human right and that, therefore, sustained and sufficient public financing of education is necessary despite any economic downturn or budgetary contraction, in order to achieve that right for all;   2. Affirming Education International’s continuing commitment to: Building the capacity of teacher trade unions in other countries; Defending the human and trades union rights of teachers around the world; achieving the goals of Education For All by 2015, including: Achieving the goal of universal primary education by 2015, and; Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, including the elimination of gender disparities in access to primary and secondary education by no later than 2015; 3. Affirming that free, universal and public education provides equal education opportunities for all, is a crucial underpinning of democracy in societies, and is a key factor enabling individuals and communities to break out of cycles of poverty; 4. Declaring that publicly funded, autonomous and democratically accountable education is part of the long-term solution to any economic downturn, as an effective and well-funded education system ensures the future success, well-being and employability of the next generation; 5. Declaring that public-private partnerships (PPP) or multi-stakeholders partnerships (MSPE) are not a viable alternative to public funding of education and that they can also lead governments to reduce their financial commitments, as well as becoming a tool for the privatisation of the educational sector and the commercialisation of educational services (paraphrased from “Quality Education: Present and Future,” Berlin 2007). 6. Affirming that Education International is determined to campaign for the increased regulation of global financial markets and acknowledging that some governments have protected their education budgets, but that weak economic recovery and continuing large public deficits continue to put pressure on education financing; 7. Considering that enormous sums of money escape any form of taxation by means of “tax haven” countries and offshore financial centres, thus depriving States of the revenue required to finance public services, particularly education; 8. Further affirming that Education International is asking for increased regulation of global financial markets; calls for the honouring of guarantees made by governments stating that their education sectors would be protected from the impact of such financial crises; supports the enormous effort made at the global level with regard to achieving the objectives of Education For All; 9. Asserting that ordinary people, workers and trade unions did not cause the global financial crisis and should not be made to pay the price; 10. Strongly asserting that the responsibility for the crisis lies firmly with the greed and recklessness of the financial sector and the pusillanimity of governments in condoning that greed and fuelling it with round after round of deregulation; Impact of the Global Economic and Financial Crisis 11. Recognising the diversity of responses by national governments world-wide to the global financial crisis. Some countries have taken the opportunity to re-affirm the role of the public sector as a weapon in the struggle for economic and social coherence and sustainability.  In many other countries, the education sector suffered a severe blow as a consequence of the curtailment of funding due to the global financial crisis which began in 2008. Due to the significant financial difficulties in many countries, provision for education has been compromised to repair the damage to economies caused by the excesses of corporate financial institutions and the lack of regulations of financial services by governments and financial institutions, particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has otherwise imposed fiscal and monetary constraints on countries needing international financial assistance; 12. Acknowledging the diverse but widespread impact of the crisis, of which the main causes are the increase in financial speculation and the deregulation of the sector initiated by international institutions and taken forward by governments, in all regions, in both developed and developing countries and throughout all levels of education, as a consequence of which the effects on education sectors have been varied, and heavily dependent on the policies adopted by governments;   13. Deploring the fact that many governments, faced with growing public debt and budgetary constraints which grew exponentially as a result of the bailout of the financial sector, are adopting austerity measures which include cutting public funding for education, deregulating the teaching profession, privatizing education and eliminating employees’ rights to collective bargaining; 14. Being deeply concerned by the increased state-sponsored abuse and scapegoating of teachers, other public service workers and trade unionists during the period of the global financial crisis. 15. Recognising that some governments are using the crisis as a pretext for imposing reforms in education based on learning outcomes and other performance measurements which are  used to generate competition for financial support and determine the distribution of such support; Impact on Higher Education and Research 16. Recalling the conclusion of the 7th International Higher Education and Research Conference in Vancouver, Canada that stated that ‘the vandals are at the gate’. 17. Expressing alarm at the vicious ideological attack on universities and research programmes as public sector goods in a number of countries, being carried out under a propaganda screen that pretends that this is an objective or technocratic solution. 18. Noting that the crisis has been used as a pretext for the promotion of a number of neo-liberal principles in higher education and research which challenge the core characteristics of public sector higher education and research including academic freedom and institutional accountability, quality and access. In particular that: A crude market or customer-provider model is being imposed; Higher education and research is being subjected to the narrow demands of business and the requirements of short-term economic competitiveness to the detriment of the broader public service missions; Costs are being shifted from the state to individuals, hitting at equality of opportunity and creating massive uncertainty about funding streams; Private institutions and corporate for-profit providers are being encouraged and allowed to cream off more lucrative courses; Courses and research in academic disciplines and fields without a direct or short-term connection to the labour market and commercial business innovation or the economy are being marginalised; In common with the rest of the public sector, university pension schemes are under savage attack. Impact of the Crisis on Development 19. Deploring the failure of the world’s richest nations to honour their international commitments to end poverty and provide universal access to education. 20. Further deploring the devastating impact of the financial crisis which is forcing many poor countries to close schools, dismiss teachers and suppress pay as education funds dry up or are diverted to feed the population. 21. Believing that the economics of austerity being forced through by some governments and by international financial institutions will: (i) Exacerbate economic inequality; (ii) Inflame social unrest (iii) Hit the poorest hardest; (iv) Reverse hard fought progress on social justice and equality of opportunity; (v) Derail international commitments to end child poverty and guarantee education for all; and (vi) Damage irrevocably the infrastructure of democratically accountable public services, including education. 22. Further believing that defeating the assault on teachers and other public sector workers, and reversing the international failure to deliver commitments to end poverty and provide universal and free access to education, can only be achieved through collective action by trade unions and other civil society organisations working together in solidarity across international borders; The 6th Education International World Congress adopts the following Action Plan: 23. Calling on all member organizations to ensure that the funding of public education remains the responsibility of their government and that any form of PPP or MSPE does not take over that responsibility. 24. Mandating the Executive Board to: i. Seek a commitment from all governments that their education sector and the public service sector would be insulated from the impact of such financial crises, and reinforce efforts globally towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All Goals; ii. Urge governments to consider education as the pivotal instrument of social policies; iii. Call on member organizations at the national, regional and international levels, to step up the campaign, in collaboration with parents, students and education communities and the wider civil society, in support of quality, accessible, free, publicly-funded education, and to promote education as a public good and a human right; iv. Request member organizations to monitor closely education policy developments and their impact on students, teachers and education employees and advocate for the use of multiple measures against the attempts to reduce the assessment of quality education to the measurable outcomes of standardized testing and to link such outcomes to access to funding; v. Cooperate with other Global Unions in defending public services, including public education; vi. Lobby the governments of loan-seeking countries and the International Monetary fund (IMF) and other lending institutions to try to ensure that education and education-related services are not undermined by any loan conditions set by the IMF or other lending institution; vii. Reaffirm EI’s independence vis a vis states, international institutions, governments, and religions; reaffirm the pre-eminence of workers’ rights, as promoted by ILO Conventions;   viii. Organise a global campaign to achieve a minimum benchmark of the 6% of the Gross Domestic product for spending on education in all countries and for the adoption and implementation of the Financial transaction Tax (FTT) and a Financial Activities Tax (FAT)  which requires changes to economic and fiscal policies in order to increase the financial resources necessary to support all public services, including education; ix. In collaboration with member organizations, use every opportunity to pressurize developed countries to fulfill their international obligations and promises with respect to the provision of the official development assistance necessary for the achievement of the EFA goals; x. Mount an urgent, reasoned campaign to protect higher education and research in those countries where it is under threat, drawing on the evidence from those countries where higher education and research has been sustained and developed in these most difficult of conditions. The campaign will need to take up these issues at the global and regional level and support national level campaigning. xi. Exert pressure on governments, public authorities and international institutions to curb the proliferation of preferential fiscal regimes, tax haven countries and offshore financial centres – in order to increase the financial resources necessary to maintain all public services, including the appropriate long-term funding of quality public education. xii. Continue the campaign against poverty and for: a. The right of every child to education; b. The defence of jobs and pensions c. The future of democratically controlled education xiii. Urge governments around the world to ensure that provisions for higher education should be extended to students from poor working class communities by providing necessary financial and material assistance so as to make higher education a universal appeal to combat challenges of poverty in poor communities in the world. To ensure that children from poor communities be provided with all necessary support at higher education institutions so as to cope with new challenges and minimize drop-out rates from this section of the population. To advocate that research be contextualized to address challenges experienced in poor global communities by proving capacity building training to emerging researchers in these communities so as to provide practical solutions to their situational challenges." xiv. Call for and actively participate in the global campaign for the cancellation of debt that frustrates the development of poor countries as a result of unfair lending terms and unjust economic relations between developing and developed countries. xv. Campaign for the fundamental transformation of the global economic architecture in which the exclusivity of the WTO, IMF and World Bank should be replaced by a democratically constituted Global Economic Council, founded on the basis of full equality of states and not in the rule of might.