Resolution on: Quality Public Education and Free Trade Unions Are the Cornerstone of Democracy

published 19 September 2019 updated 19 September 2019

The 8th World Congress of Education International (EI), meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21st to 26th July 2019:

(1) Affirming that democracy is necessary for working people and unions to secure our economic livelihoods, to ensure a decent standard of living, to have voice and rights in the workplace, to elect government representatives who are committed to a fair economy and the interests of working people, and to freely advocate for a progressive agenda on behalf of the many, and not just the wealthy few.

(2) Noting that a vibrant and robust system of public education is an essential component of democracy and is crucial for its survival.

(3) Believing that authoritarian governments have always sought to suppress unions and other free institutions of civil society perceived as threats to their rule.

(4) Asserting that there is a worldwide “crisis of democracy”, reflected in the growing international trend of authoritarian populist movements on the far right. Democracy around the world now confronts a threat unseen since the rise of totalitarianism in the 1930s.

(5) Expressing that authoritarian populist regimes on the far right now control governments across the globe - from Hungary, Poland and Turkey to India, the Philippines and Russia - and present real threats throughout much of the rest of Asia, Europe and North America.

(6) Stating that the pattern in this “crisis of democracy” is not violent usurpation of democratic rule, but the assumption of power through legal, electoral means, followed by the incremental dismantling of the institutions and practices of democracy.

(7) Believing that the class solidarity expressed through trade unions organising and mobilising working people to defend their rights is a key bulwark against the advance of authoritarian populist movements of the far right.

(8) The EI World Congress mandates the Executive Board:

(i) To affirm that the centrality of democracy represents the fundamental values that are the foundation of Education International’s mission and is the unifying cohesive principle for all member organisations; therefore, EI is committed to promote education for democracy as the highest order of business.

(ii) To emphasise in all the forums that deliberate the Sustainable Development Goals the high-level importance of SDG 4.7 and the necessity of allocating the resources and time required to provide youth with quality civic education that enables them to be engaged citizens in their communities.

(iii) To partner with UNESCO for the creation of multi-cultural, multi-lingual learning materials which teachers may easily access for project-based learning about democratic rights and participatory democratic governance.

(iv) To join forces, wherever possible, with unions and education organisations; movements for civil rights, immigration rights, religious freedom, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and disability rights; and elected officials in defence of democracy.