“We are all inspired by the Yatra you have undertaken and your commitment to the future of teachers and education in India.” On World Teachers’ Day, October 5th, Education International (EI) President Susan Hopgood addressed Indian education unionists in Delhi as they successfully concluded their month-long ‘Bharat Yatra’ campaign, demanding the re-instatement of pension benefits for all teachers and government employees.
As she addressed the gathering, Hopgood paid tribute to All-India Primary Teachers’ Federation (AIPTF) President Ram Pal Singh Ji who recently passed away for “dedicating his life to upholding the rights of teachers and fighting for quality education for all.”
“As we gather today, let us remind ourselves of the significance of World Teachers’ Day. A day that calls us to recognise and honour the dedication of our teachers. But we must also recognise the challenges we face,” she continued. “I am privileged to visit our brothers and sisters in member organisations worldwide, and I can tell you that we are all navigating similar challenges: insufficient funding in education, growing privatisation, the erosion of ting teachers’ professional rights and autonomy, the increasing casualisation of the profession and vital matters concerning fair salaries, pensions, and social security.”
Education unionists participating in the AIPTF led Yatra crossed 11 states, held more than 150 meetings, met with over two hundred thousand people, and travelled 8,278 km. “It spread awareness among union members. Everywhere I went, they celebrated the yatra as if it were a family event. No doubt, this yatra will bring change among teachers and among unions in future,” expressed AIPTF National Women Network Secretary, Seema Mathur.
“We are all inspired by the Yatra you have undertaken and your commitment to the future of teachers and education in India,” Hopgood remarked as she addressed the participants. “You have traveled thousands of kilometers to be here today. You have visited local leaders, government officials, schools, neighborhoods. From early mornings to late at night, in small towns and big cities, you carried the voice of teachers across India. We are here to support you as you fight for your pensions and the respect you have earned by dedicating your life to teaching. We stand with you, as you stand for contract teachers and demand permanent contracts and stable salaries.”
Go Public! Fund Education campaign
Hopgood remarked on the connection between the Yatra and the 'Go Public! – Fund Education' campaign, by Education International, “a global call to address the dire need for public funding in the education sector.”
She also reaffirmed that “quality education requires fully funded public education systems and the teaching profession. We need to rally together, ensuring that every child, irrespective of their background, has access to quality education.”
The yatra, an inspiration for the education movement worldwide
Hopgood concluded: “As we mark World Teachers’ Day, let’s remember that our strength lies in unity. Our voices, when raised together, can bring about the change we so desperately seek. It's not just about celebrating one day but about working collectively every single day to ensure a brighter, more inclusive future for all.”