Education International
Education International

Executive Board engaged in final preparations for World Congress

published 23 March 2015 updated 13 April 2015

Diverse congress business, including policy papers, resolutions and awardees, are high on the agenda of the 44th Education International Executive Board meeting, with just four months to go before the organisation’s key political event.

Members of the EI Executive Board are set to tackle a check-list of organisational items for the EI 7th World Congress, which is being held in Ottawa, Canada, from 21-27 July 2015. With over 2,000 education unionists and representatives of partner organisations from all over the world set to attend congress, this week marks the final time the Executive Board gathers to address it.

In addition to adopting the congress agenda and programme, the board is set to debate the final text of the Human and Trade Union Rights Policy Paper to be presented during the event, as well as final text addenda to the Policy paper on education: Building the Future through Quality Education adopted at the last EI Congress.

However, the opening of the 44th meeting of the Executive Board in Brussels quickly focused on international conflicts where teachers, students and education as a whole have been caught in the crosshairs.

“We witnessed several catastrophes since our last meeting in September 2014,” said Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, as he delivered his progress report, citing the attacks in Pakistan and Kenya, Syria and Iraq, in which too many students and teachers died.

Van Leeuwen discussed Iraq and Syria, “where many students and teachers have become victims of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” There are two million refugees from these countries, he reminded, highlighting and commending to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey, which are  doing their best to welcome and provide refugee children with education. But the European Union for example only welcomes 22,000 refugees, he noted.

Over the years, EI has passed resolutions calling on governments to be more generous when it comes to welcoming refugees, a tradition the general secretary said should continue by “ not only pressuring governments, particularly in Europe, but also UN agencies involved to enable public school systems to receive many more children than they currently do.”

Get Up For School

There are 58 million children we have promised to give an education before the end of this year, he reminded and the Education for All’s objective still needs to be achieved.

Education International has been working closely together with the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown on the #UpForSchool campaign, and van Leeuwen called on EI affiliates to mobilise their members to sign the petition to be presented to the UN and their member states.

Latest achievements

Van Leeuwen highlighted the successes achieved by EI and its affiliates lately, such as: the building of new headquarters for the Syndicat des employé(e)s de l'éducation et de la science(STESU) in Ukraine, after the previous one was burned to the ground in 2014 during violent clashes between demonstrators and police. The new headquarters were purchased with funds from the financial solidarity support; the first discussions and development of activities around lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues in the Caribbean region; and the largest ever regional conference held in the African region, with over 500 education unionists attending, showing their strong engagement for quality education and decent work for educators.

Congress business

Other congress resolutions proposed by the Executive Board, on themes such as school-related gender-based violence, education support personnel, young and early-stage teachers and support personnel or the role of education in the promotion of standards and values in the world, are also on the agenda.

This week will also see the EI Awardees - the Albert Shanker Education Award and the Mary Hatwood Futrell Human and Trade Union Rights Award - selected, and Distinguished Associates nominated.

The 44th Executive Board meeting continues until 25 March in Brussels, Belgium.