World leaders meet to transform education at global summit

published 15 September 2022 updated 20 September 2022

The critically important role of governments as guarantors and providers of free quality public education for all has never been clearer. The United Nation’s Transforming Education Summit (TES) a global meeting of Heads of State to focus on education, will take place on 19 September in New York. The TES seeks to mobilise the political action necessary to achieve quality public education for all. Education International will bring the voice of education workers at this historical Summit.

The TES is a response to several crises in education, including post pandemic-related learning losses and deepened inequities. It aims to accelerate progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on inclusive quality education for all. UNESCO’s latest estimates show that there is a 148 billion dollar annual financing gap in the poorest countries to achieve SDG4. As a result of government cuts to education after the COVID pandemic, this could be exacerbated by almost a third.

But the pandemic has revealed only the tip of the education crisis iceberg. Research by Education International points to an overworked, underpaid, and undervalued teaching profession. Teachers are now asked to do much more with much fewer resources. Unsurprisingly, more and more teachers are leaving the profession and few young people see teaching as an attractive career. The global teacher shortage is very likely to increase dramatically because an exhausted workforce is being driven out of the profession.

“Education International is calling for urgent political attention to education-to the deepened inequity, the cuts to education budgets and the shortage of trained and qualified teachers, to mention just a few of the barriers to achieving quality education for all,” stated David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International.

“This summit is a powerful opportunity for every country to make a bold and meaningful commitment to education and to the profession that makes it possible.”

Transformation begins with qualified, respected and well-paid teachers

During the summit, the education community will be coming together to discuss in depth challenges and strategies for the future of education, particularly within and across five thematic action tracks.

Education International’s participation at the Summit will elevate the voices of education unions to ensure governments launch ambitious commitments to public education, but also to hold them accountable to implementing the reforms needed to transform education for a more sustainable future.

At the Summit, world leaders have the opportunity to show that they have been listening to the profession and to demonstrate that they understand what is needed to truly transform education for the better. Education International and its member affiliates around the world will be calling on them to increase the size and share of education funding to ensure that no child is left behind.

Specifically, Education International will be asking for heads of state to commit to:

1. Increase investment in quality public education systems.

2. Guarantee labour rights and good working conditions for teachers and education support personnel.

3. Invest in quality teacher training and professional development.

4. Trust and respect teachers and their pedagogical expertise.

5. Involve teacher unions in policy through social dialogue.

Government commitments made at TES can be viewed live on UNTV on the 19th September, or accessed on the UN TES website after the event.

Education International’s key messages across each of the five TES thematic action tracks can be viewed here.

“For this Summit to be a major turning point for education globally, we are calling on all heads of state to stand up to realize every student’s right to have a well-supported qualified teacher and a quality learning environment. We want every government to include a focus on enhancing the status and rights of the profession: investing in teachers, trusting teachers, and involving teachers and support personnel in decision-making on education-related issues,” Edwards added.