Congress takes action to achieve universal free quality education

published 25 July 2019 updated 25 July 2019

The fourth day of Education International’s 8th World Congress was a celebration of human rights and an expression of the collective strength of the teaching profession. The theme of the day was ensuring free quality education for all.

In a video message to EI Delegates, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, saluted teachers and reaffirmed her full support for them and their unions.

“We know what underpins quality education - quality teachers who are at the frontlines ensuring education is at the fore,” said Mohammed who was instrumental in bringing about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals. “Thank you for ensuring quality education.”

When life is the price for defending rights

Invited guest speaker from the Philippines, France Castro, recipient of the Arthur Svensson Award shared with delegates some tragic news. Two educators, a high school principal and his sister, were brutally killed a few hours earlier by unidentified gunmen who stormed their home.

“Sadly, this is a normal occurrence since this government has been in power. We have seen many people murdered, including workers, farmers, lawyers, church people and now we are beginning to see teachers and educators added to the list.” Delegates held a moment of silence for the two murdered educators.

The plight of the Lumad

Castro, elected MP in 2016 as a candidate from her union, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), described the situation involving the Lumad, the indigenous people in the Philippines. After their land was given away to investors for mining and other destructive activities, they were relocated to the mountains.

Castro herself was harassed when she was on a mission to investigate the situation of the Lumad people. She was detained for two days and three nights on charges of kidnapping, child trafficking and abuse.

She regretted that martial law is still being imposed in the areas where the Lumad people live and that they continue to be harassed and discriminated against while mining projects are ongoing. “Schools will continue to stand and the teachers will not stop educating the children, even in the evacuation areas,” Castro announced. “We will continue to support them.”

Resolutions adopted

Working on Congress key matters, delegates also adopted resolutions in support of social development goals, high quality early childhood education; information and communications technologies; global citizenship education and others tied to the commercialisation and privatisation of education. In addition, Congress pledged to fight for the rights of immigrant and refugee children to education and carried resolutions opposing the systematic weakening of public education in Brazil and condemning the US President for the attack against US Congresswomen.