Global education union leaders call for investment in education and renew their call to international solidarity

published 21 November 2022 updated 29 November 2022

For the first time in 3 years, the Education International’s Executive Board (ExBo) met in person to take stock of the state of education, highlight the work of EI on behalf of members, and recommit to solidarity with teachers and unionists around the world.

The meeting, held in Brussels, was a powerful opportunity for global representatives of the teaching profession and education workers to reconnect in person for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic and look forward to furthering the work of EI.

In the face of COVID, Education International advanced the agenda of members

Despite the severe disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, felt in every corner of the world, Education International continued and expanded its advocacy at all levels for quality public education, human rights, and the status of the profession.

As reported by EI General Secretary, David Edwards during his progress report, from Ukraine, to Afghanistan, to Iran and in every region of the world, EI has been at the forefront of education issues, supporting and engaging with members.

One of the highlights of this advocacy was the Transforming Education Summit (TES), where governments from around the world committed to take concrete actions to support public education and invest in the teaching profession. This included the creation of an International Commission on the Teaching Profession, which will lead on global issues.

Education International brought the voice of the teaching profession to world leaders at TES, underlining challenges and strategies for a new deal for teachers, for the future of education, particularly within and across five thematic action tracks. Specifically, it asked 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.

The report also highlighted the power of solidarity and concluded with a message from the new minister of Labour of Colombia, Gloria Ramírez, former President of the Federación Colombiana de Trabajadores de la Educación (FECODE), an EI member organisation in Colombia.

The EI leaders also welcomed the victory of Lula in Brazil, highlighting this was a victory for workers’ rights, social and climate justice.

Recalling the words of EI’s founding President Mary Hatwood Futrell, Edwards concluded its report by stressing that “one thing seems certain: as the need for equity persists, the push for progress will be equally persistent”.

Green light to new Education International’s campaign

While at its last meeting in May 2022, the ExBo agreed that Education International’s next campaign would focus on increased investment in quality public education, it decided during its 60th meeting that this campaign will be articulated around three main pillars:

  1. Increase public education financing and invest in the education workforce;
  2. Confronting, halting and reversing the privatisation and commercialisation of education;
  3. Strengthening the narrative for quality public education.

The campaign, to be launched on 24 January, the International Day of Education, will support EI member organisations as they push back against austerity and challenge education budget cuts.

Iran: Solidarity with women and girls

The ExBo also adopted a Resolution on Iran, specifically focusing on and supporting women and girls in this country, denouncing the Iranian government’s attack on women’s and girls’ fundamental human rights and on their lives, urging the country’s public authorities to ensure that they can decide in full autonomy how to lead their lives, particularly by getting an education.

Education International and its member organisations continue “to stand in solidarity with Iranian teacher unions in their struggle for their right to free quality public education for all and for gender equality at all levels of society”, and call “for international solidarity with the people of Iran and for further pressure against the Iranian regime to hold them accountable for their repressive policies and actions against women and girls”.

Solidarity with Ukraine

Education International’s ExBo member and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten reported on the mission in Ukraine of a delegation of the AFT and the Polish education trade union ZNP, where they met national and local leaders of Ukrainian education union and Education International’s affiliate, the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine.

The Education International’s leaders reiterated their full support to the Ukrainian educators, students and people.

Theme for upcoming World Congresses

The ExBo choose the following theme for the 9th and 10th World Congresses: “Growing our unions, elevating our professions, defending democracy”.

It is confident that this theme ties together the efforts to enhance the status of the profession and strengthen the education union movement with the defense for democratic values, principles and systems. It places the teaching profession and its autonomy, and the role and rights of trade unions at the heart of a well-functioning democracy, and recognises the contribution of education unions to democratic societies.