Education unions and governments come together at Summit to strengthen the teaching profession

published 2 May 2023 updated 6 June 2023

The 2023 International Summit on the Teaching Profession concluded in Washington last week, providing what EI General Secretary David Edwards called “a policy beacon and safe harbor for ideas to be exchanged and debated” on critical global education issues.

The 13th annual ISTP brought together 22 countries to discuss how to strengthen the teaching profession and ensure all students have access to a quality education.

Co-hosted by Education International, the U.S. Department of Education and EI members the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Summit was organised around the theme “Poised for the Future: Transformative Teaching for Global Engagement, Sustainability, and Digital Access.”

The Summit this year focused on three subthemes - elevating and enhancing the teaching profession, educating for global and cultural competence and civic engagement, and leveraging digital technologies to ensure equitable access and enhanced learning for all.

Participants across the three-day Summit noted the connections between civic engagement and quality education including well-resourced and compensated teachers.

EI President Susan Hopgood noted the inseparable elements of the Summit themes and subjects in her remarks opening the event: “At EI, we are mobilising to connect the crisis in funding to the sustainable world we want to create. Our global campaign – Go Public! Fund Education – unites our 383 member organizations in 178 countries and their 32 million members in the fight for publicly funded education and resourcing the public sector to build inclusive, quality public education for all. As we mobilise for resources, we also recognise the need for a collaborative and cooperative approach to solving the teacher shortage crisis, to ensuring an education workforce that is prepared and “poised for the future” as we say in the call to these sessions.”

In addition to Edwards and Hopgood, the Summit featured remarks by U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and OECD Director of Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher.

U.S. First Lady Jill Biden stated: “When we commit to building an education system that works for all, schools and communities are stronger. Teachers have the support they need to reach students where they are. Parents don’t have to worry that their children are being left behind, and kids grow and learn every day.”

In his closing remarks, Edwards noted that the status of the profession, especially the critical shortage of teachers globally, is a high priority for the United Nations.

“For the first time in 60 years the UN Secretary General has stopped the normal mode of describing the problem and listened to the teaching profession’s call to reverse this trend,” Edwards said. “The UN High-Level Panel is gathering evidence around the world to develop recommendations and I encourage all of you to participate in the consultations to enable the knowledge and wisdom developed in fora like ISTP to inform those recommendations and show why critical investments must be made to implement them.”

Edwards also cited a broad consensus among Summit delegates that teachers have a say in how technology is used in education and for what purpose.

“This is why Education International looks forward to further developing ethical principles for effective and equitable use of AI with and for teachers and in the service of our students,” Edwards said. “You have heard that ‘we are the ones we are waiting for.’ In this case it means we are responsible to mobilize for the progressive use of this technology and hold governments accountable to make this real.”