Education International
Education International

The magic of the teaching profession

published 25 July 2011 updated 9 September 2011

Bob Harris, the Senior Consultant to EI’s General Secretary, who will retire at the end of the sixth EI World Congress after a distinguished career serving teachers around the world, delivered a moving address in which he thanked teachers and education unions who have worked together for international unity.

The former secondary school teacher from Adelaide, Australia, was Assistant General Secretary of the State Institute of Teachers, and played a key role in establishing the national School Commission in the 1970s. He became Coordinator for Development at the World Confederation of Organisations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP) in 1979 and was elected WCOTP Secretary General in 1988, shortly before discussions began with the International Federation of Free Teachers' Unions (IFFTU) which led to the formation of Education International (EI) in 1993. Bob Harris went on to serve as Executive Director for Inter-Governmental Relations and a member of the EI Executive Board from 1993 until 1996. He also chaired the Working Group on Education, Training and Employment of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development from 1994-2011, as well as serving as President of the Conference of NGOs at UNESCO from 1982-1988 and then at the United Nations from 1995-1997.

Re-elected EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, invited Lars Erik to move the formal address about the man who has served as EI’s Senior Consultant to the General Secretary.

Lars Erik commended Bob Harris’ major contribution to the successful merger between the WCOTP and the IFFTU: “Thanks to Bob’s contribution to the establishment of EI, teachers internationally can now speak with one voice to the world.”

Bob Harris then delivered his retirement speech in which he referred to the developments that led to the creation of EI. He said: “I am immensely proud to have contributed to the development of EI, towards the development of the teaching profession, and to quality teaching and learning for all.”

He went on to address the “magic of the teaching profession, the nobility of the trade union movement, and the richness and diversity of human identity,” adding that when combined these three elements formed the essence of EI.

Bob Harris concluded by saying that: “The challenges facing education are as great as ever and I am confident that the new generations will rise to confront those challenges.”

To read the full speech delivered by Bob Harris, please click here.

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