Education International
Education International

Teachers' forum urges Commonwealth governments to invest in developing the teaching profession

published 22 June 2009 updated 22 June 2009

Teacher organisations from 29 Commonwealth countries urged their governments to invest in teachers and in developing the teaching profession in a Teachers' Forum held recently in Kuala Lumpur.

The participants insisted that the current financial crisis cannot be used as a pretext for failing to invest in education.

The Teachers’ Forum, mainly comprising participants from EI member organisations in Commonwealth countries, met in the Malaysian capital from 15–18 Jun, concurrently with the 17th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers.

The Forum was organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Teachers' Group, and hosted by the Malaysian Ministry of Education, working closely with the local teacher organisations.

Addressing the Forum, Susan Hopgood, Federal Secretary of the Australian Education Union and EI Vice President, reminded the participants that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) targets requires a global effort.

She stressed the fact that education is a fundamental human right and a public good, and insisted that “it is the responsibility of government to ensure the provision of, and access to quality public education for all children”.

Hopgood went on to stress that, while multi-stakeholder partnerships may be established between governments, the private sector and civil society to achieve EFA targets, such partnerships should not be driven by commercial interests. Their purpose should be to support quality public education.

Dennis Sinyolo, the EI Senior Coordinator for Education and Employment, talked about the need to professionalise the teaching profession. He urged governments to stop the recruitment of unqualified teachers, as this undermines the teaching profession.

Sinyolo stressed the importance of teacher training (both pre- and in-service) and the need to establish professional bodies and professional codes of conduct/ethics to regulate the teaching profession and to improve the teachers’ conditions of service.

The Teachers’ Forum came up with a statement, which was presented to, and endorsed by the Commonwealth Ministers of Education. Christine Blower, Acting Convenor of the CTG, presented the statement on behalf of the Teachers’ Forum. The statement addresses issues around teacher professionalism, teacher motivation and effectiveness and the role of teachers in addressing diversity.

In its statement, the Forum called upon Commonwealth Ministers to protect and increase investment in education and to invest in teachers and the teaching profession. Christine Blower emphasised the need to invest in education despite the current global recession by telling the Commonwealth Ministers of Education,“If you think education is expensive, count the cost of ignorance”.

To read the full statement in English, click on the link below.