Education International has welcomed the launch of the Education Workforce Initiative by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.
The Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) was launched in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in conjunction with the Global Education and Skills Forum and the Global Teacher Prize award ceremony.
Speaking at the launch, Susan Hopgood, Education International (EI) President and Vice-chairperson of the High Level Steering Group (HLSG) of the initiative, noted that the EWI provides an opportunity for governments to work with education unions, teachers and education support personnel to professionalize teaching and non-teaching roles.
Teaching is a profession
Hopgood reaffirmed that teaching is a profession, and that all students should be taught by well-trained, highly qualified, trusted, supported and motivated teachers, and learn in healthy, safe and well-resourced institutions. She warned that the EWI should not result in deprofessionalisation by promoting the recruitment of unqualified teaching personnel.
Whole-child, whole-student approach essential
Hopgood advocated for a whole-child, whole-student approach, where teachers and education support personnel (ESP) work together to support students to achieve their full potential.
“Just to be crystal clear, we are not suggesting that education support personnel should play the role of teachers, or viceversa, but that these essential categories of education professionals should complement and collaborate with each other in order to ensure maximum use of their skills and support for the students,” she stressed.
Adding that “EI values the critical role of education support personnel in contributing to quality education for all and the achievement of SDG 4 on quality education,” she described EI's efforts to empower ESP’s, including through the convening of an international conference for education support professionals, to be held in Brussels, Belgium, in May this year.
School leadership critical
Hopgood also argued that school leaders play a pivotal role in the provision of quality education and in ensuring equity and equal educational opportunities for all learners. She however insisted that far too many school leaders spend a great deal of their time undertaking administrative tasks, instead of supporting teachers and learners in and outside the classroom, and called upon the EWI to help strengthen pedagogical leadership in schools.
Government commitment crucial
She continued reminding the HLSG and other participants that training and recruiting adequate numbers of teachers and education support personnel can only be achieved if governments demonstrate clear political will and commitment to develop and implement comprehensive teacher and education support personnel policies.
“Of paramount importance is the funding needed to recruit, motivate and retain quality teachers and education support personnel,” Hopgood said.
She concluded by stressing that “the success of the EWI, and indeed any education policy or reform, can only be assured if teachers and education support personnel are involved right from the beginning and throughout the process”.
The EWI is therefore expected to draw attention to the critical role of quality teachers and ESP in contributing to quality education for all, particularly in low and middle income countries.