EI President Susan Hopgood, General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, Deputy General Secretary David Edwards and Executive Board member Marième Sakho Dansokho have participated in a series of high-level meetings in Washington DC, USA, at World Bank-International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings, on the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI). They have ensured that the voice of teachers is heard at these events and advocated for quality education.
EI Mobilising for Quality Education Initiative presented at high-level meeting
On 18 April, EI President took part in the Second meeting of the High-Level Steering Committee of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, where she announced the EI Mobilising for Quality Education (MQE) Initiative.
Hopgood also invited UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and partners to the launch of this campaign in New York, USA, in October, to coincide with EI’s commemoration of World Teachers’ Day, at the end of the UN General Assembly.
“Through the MQE Initiative, EI will advocate for universal, free and quality education to be a central part of any global post-2015 development strategy,” she said. “In that regard, beginning next month, EI will be organising regional workshops around the world for its members to review Education for All (EFA)/Millennium Development Goals progress, challenges and lessons learnt and carry out EFA assessments at country level. Arising from these assessments, EI will come up with its own teachers’ EFA Report Card.”
EI also participated in a Learning for All Ministerial on 18 April which brought together Ministers of Finance and Education - from eight countries that are home to about one-half of the world’s out-of-school children - with leaders from development partner organisations and civil society to discuss specific challenges and concrete steps to accelerate progress toward ensuring that all children can go to school and learn. The event focused on eight countries: Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan.
Ministerial meetings were co-hosted by the President of the World Bank Group with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. Other participants also included the heads of the four Education For All co-founding agencies (UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP and the World Bank), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, global civil society and the private sector.
Trained teachers ensure quality education where it matters most
On 19 April, EI General Secretary Van Leeuwen further took part in a civil society panel on closing the teacher gap, which coincides with the theme of the Global Action Week (GAW) (21-27 April) – “Every Child needs a Teacher”.
“The international community must work with educators to find real and lasting solutions,” he said. “This year’s Global Action Week has a direct link with our Mobilising for Quality Education Initiative. As Gordon Brown noted, quality education can only be achieved by making sure children get access to adequately qualified teachers with adequate conditions.”
He added: “We need a new deal for teachers, which actually recognises that the old deal is a bad deal and that we have a problem. In fact we have to hire more than six million primary teachers, including replacement and new hires. That represents ten per cent of the world’s entire teaching profession if we count early childhood education to higher education, and twenty per cent of EI membership. If you are a rural, indigenous girl in a country torn by conflict, the odds that you have a highly trained, qualified teacher and good learning conditions are pretty poor.”
He also reminded that the past year, EI and GCE released a report about closing the trained teacher gap which takes a hard look at the proliferation of contract teachers within the broader context of the reforms that have attempted to maximise teacher output and lowering recurrent expenditures, and thinking about professionalisation as a word that describes a process where the collective power of teachers organisations is managed through a series of ‘deals’, rather than recognising the organisations themselves as voicing pedagogical issues.
“A new deal must be negotiated with us and not sold to us, we take responsibility for what we can control but our professional rights, our safety and our voice must be respected,” van Leeuwen strongly emphasised.
Global Unions demand respect for human and trade union rights
EI further joined in the Statement by Global Unions to the 2013 Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
This statement asks the IMF to “end support for harmful labour market ‘reforms.’ IMF recommendations or conditions in this area have included reducing or freezing minimum wages, relaxing dismissal procedures and reducing severance pay. They have also included the weakening or dismantling national and sector-level collective bargaining arrangements, at times in contravention of internationally-recognised labour standards.”
If the Bank is to effectively address inequality and make good on its commitment to reduce poverty, it will need renewed efforts and focus on employment creation and social protection. The Bank should work to implement the proposal of the World Development Report 2013: Jobs, to re-examine all development strategies through a ‘jobs lens’.
The EI delegation also had the opportunity to meet with Homi Kharas, the lead Author and Executive Secretary of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the global development agenda beyond 2015. It presented EI’s targets, goals and indicators for education in the post-2015 global development framework, based on its ten principles.
The education leaders also had a meeting with Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer for the GPE, and USAID representatives, among others.