Asia-Pacific education unionists mobilise for quality public education
Around 400 participants at the 7th EI Asia-Pacific Regional Conference celebrated the pre-launch of EI’s campaign, Unite for Quality Education - Better education for a better world. The one-year campaign will be launched simultaneously in New York and Paris on 4 October.
“We cannot afford to fail our children,” said Yuzuru Nakamura, Chairperson of the EI Asia-Pacific Regional Committee, at the opening of the ceremony. “The voice of teachers today is heard in international fora such as the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation and the OECD. They take EI’s voice into account. This could not have been achieved without the impact of the energry of EI affiliates.”
Children must be guaranteed a better future through quality public education, and by thinking globally and acting locally, he stressed.
Benefits of teaching
“A Harvard Professor once advised one of his students: If you want to do something difficult, go into teaching,” Malaysia’s former Director-General for Education, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Wan Modh Zahid, later told participants in his keynote address. “It is difficult, because it is not an island, a stand-alone entity. It is linked to many other things, such as democracy, tradition, religion, ethnicity, values, or politics.”
He added that Malaysia’s Minister of Education was right in saying that society needs the best and the brightest in education.
Also, he underlined that educators must above all teach students to think, and “quality education for all means that everyone must be a free thinker”. So, he said, “teach nothing but thinking”. In addition, he said, the mark of a true educator is the ability to interact in a mode of reciprocity with students.
EI: Pillars of quality education
“Quality education is not simply a public good. It is a basic human right,” said EI President Susan Hopgood. She added that EI and its affiliates’ vision of quality education is not only defined in terms of learning outcomes, but also in terms of the full development of the individuals and their contribution to society.
EI’s commitment to quality education has never wavered, she said. It believes that a better quality education is key to a better world, and that education is more than attending school, she explained.
“We believe that quality education is based on three pillars – quality teaching, quality teaching and learning tools, and quality teaching and learning environments, at all levels of education and in all communities,” she highlighted.
To change the reality for millions of children, Hopgood insisted, EI and the educators it represents must have an impact on perceptions around the world, and so teachers are mobilising to achieve that.
Campaign of awareness
“In the Unite for Quality Education campaign, we will bring together the voices of those of us who know that a better education is a key to a better world,” she said. “Our aim is to create awareness among governments, inter-governmental agencies, and society generally that quality education for all is a central part of any post-2015 development strategy.”
Three education unionists from the region then took turns reading the Pledge for Quality Public Education adopted by the Asia-Pacific education unions, the whole audience reading together the last paragraph: “We solemnly pledge our faith to this Pledge made during the 7th Education International Asia-Pacific Regional Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and offer our assistance to others who uphold similar ideals.”