Education International
Education International

EI address to the 96th session of the International Labour Conference Committee on the Application of Standards, Geneva, 30 May-15 June 2007

published 1 June 2007 updated 1 June 2007

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As it does every three years, your Committee is today examining the CEART Report assessing the state of play on implementation of the two Recommendations on the status of teachers from pre-primary through to university education. Two texts that are crucial building blocks for the tens of millions of women and men teachers across the world, and that tie into the fundamental principles laid down in the ILO Conventions. The CEART, let me make the point, is an utterly unique joint body of two United Nations system agencies (the ILO and UNESCO) by which teachers set great store. Last October’s meeting came 40 years after the adoption of the Recommendation on primary and secondary teachers, and a decade on from the governments’ 1997 pledges on the status of higher education teaching personnel. In adopting these Recommendations, governments acknowledged the fundamental importance to the knowledge-based society to which we are fervently committed, of having highly qualified teachers who are trained to give the best preparation for future generations, future workers of course, but also the future informed and enlightened citizens who will be the guarantors of a democratic society. The CEART focussed its ninth session on the core issues of teaching and education under the two Recommendations, that are also central to teachers' concerns • teacher training - both initial and further • labour relations, particularly the concerning steady rise in the number of contract and unqualified teachers; • teachers' salaries, including merit and performance-related pay; • conditions conducive to effective teaching and learning; • social dialogue in the education sector; • academic freedom, labour relations, freedom of association and staff participation in decision-making in higher education. We particularly welcome the special attention paid by the Joint Committee to transversal issues cutting across all these themes: the implications of Education For All (EFA) undertakings, worldwide teachers shortages and growing international migration of teachers, the impact of HIV/AIDS on teachers and educational systems, and gender issues. We support the involvement of CEART and its members in efforts to promote the provisions of and compliance with the 1966 and 1997 Recommendations, and to help address the issues raised in the Allegations. On this point, I should like simply to say that we noted with interest the first-ever government assent to a CEART mission being undertaken. We see this as desirable, notwithstanding that some aspects of the mission remain to be settled. Our organisation informed the CEART meeting’s work through a report, and indeed we see a good many of our findings and proposals in the recommendations drawn up by the CEART, and we also took part in the special session for an exchange of views held with the representatives of international organisations. We agree with the Committee’s conclusions and endorse the recommendations made. I must, however, make two particular points: The teacher shortage: Teachers of both sexes are in very short supply. We believe that most governments, even if they acknowledge the facts, have sadly not sized up the problem and therefore not taken the proper steps to address it. There are many reasons for the shortage: • A high volume of retirements, • The AIDS pandemic, • A de facto devaluation through poor pay and employment conditions, combined with inadequate initial and in-service training, which no longer attract the younger generations and even drive many staff out of the education sector. This shortage is leading developed countries to recruit growing numbers of qualified teachers from developing countries. And this has serious repercussions not only on the quality of education in these countries, but also acts to stop these countries from achieving the goal of EFA by 2015. Higher education. This is an agenda-topping sector for many international organisations and unprecedented reforms - in Europe especially - are being rolled out today, not least as part of an aggressive globalization, and these reforms are compounding insecurity among academic and research staff. Academic staff are deeply concerned by the fact that, and I quote from page 7 of the report (English version): “Violations of academic freedom based on security or private commercial concerns were growing in parallel with the decline in collegial self-governance and participation of staff in institutional decision-making processes”. To conclude This report clearly shows that while some progress has been made in almost all the areas addressed, the two Recommendations are not being properly applied or are being largely disregarded in the current policies of many governments. The Committee has made a number of Recommendations to all stakeholders, and we sincerely hope that all will face up to their responsibilities. Teaching unions nationally and within their international organisation will continue to press for the two Recommendations to be implemented, not least by producing promotional material and staging many activities, especially for World Teachers’ Day on 5 October. We shall also be convening an international conference on higher education and research this coming November, focused on the principles of the 1997 Recommendation. We call on the other stakeholders, governments, employers and agencies to shoulder their responsibilities so that the relevant provisions of the two Recommendations are applied through dialogue with teaching personnel and their representative organisations. Monique FOUILHOUX Coordinator, Education and Employment