Education International
Education International

Education For All: a teachers’ perspective

published 1 August 2013 updated 6 August 2013

Delhi, India, was the location for a meeting to facilitate EI member organisations to evaluate the implementation of the Education For All (EFA) process in their home countries. The aim was to publicise teachers’ perspectives on EFA, after 25 years of global efforts to achieve education ‘for every citizen in every society’.

This EFA meeting for the Asia-Pacific region took place from 24-26 July, and follows on a meeting for EI affiliates of the African region in Accra, Ghana, last May.

In Delhi, trade union representatives from 12 countries exchanged information on key issues including education funding, transparency and accountability in educational governance, enhancement of teachers’ status and policy dialogue-action points from the 2000 Dakar Framework for action.

Union leaders participating in these regional meetings will become the ambassadors of this process back in their respective countries, implementing the assessment process at national level to help inform and influence future actions.

Putting education in context On 24 July, participants shared their successful advocacy practices regarding teachers’ working conditions and the quality of education in their countries.

They reported on key challenges, faced by both the profession and the education system, as well as strategic priorities at the local, regional and national levels to achieve quality education for all.

Attendees also discussed how nations’ political commitment towards the EFA process has translated into reality, with a particular focus on identifying how funding for education has evolved since 2000.

EI regional coordinator Sashi Bala Singh and EI Deputy General Secretary David Edwards offered an overview of the regional and international perspective on the global education agenda, with a special emphasis on the EFA and Millennium Development Goals’ processes.

Challenges, achievements, and prioritiesTeachers’ deprofessionalisation and privatisation - in and of the education system - were identified as major challenges.

The first trend is reflected in the hiring of contract teachers, untrained teachers, and the worsening of teachers’ salaries and working conditions worldwide.

Privatisation trends include a sudden increase in low-cost for-profit private schools promoted by private entrepreneurs in countries such as India.

At the global level, it was reported, there is a learning crisis in education, and learning for all is the new focus of education reforms promoted by multilateral development agencies.

For instance, the World Bank Education Sector Strategy 2020 focuses on the measurement of learning and proposes evaluating teachers based on their students’ standardised tests scores.

Moreover, the imposition of high-stake testing around the world is benefiting an over-expanding testing industry. Private institutions are now selling standardised tests to measure learning as well as implementing for-profit private schools.

“The over-emphasis on teachers’ performance as central to quality and accountability, and the assumption that any teacher can be effective regardless of working conditions and educational environment, is undermining the quality of our public education systems worldwide,” stated EI Deputy General Secretary David Edwards.

“Every student must be taught by a qualified and well-supported teacher, and learn in safe educational institutions with adequate infrastructure, facilities and resources. This is where governments and international organisations must direct their efforts,” he added.

Teachers’ perspective on EFA process The second day of the workshop focused on the role of teacher unions in the post-2015 debate and how they are working to ensure that education is part of a sustainable global development agenda.

The aim was to assess if governments are delivering on the commitment that “teachers should be able to participate, locally and nationally, in decisions affecting their professional lives and teaching environments”, as the Dakar Framework for Action states.

Towards this aim, participants examined social dialogue conditions since 2000 and in what ways these conditions have improved, deteriorated or remained unchanged.

They also discussed education policies, programmes and actions in their respective countries and how they affected progress towards each EFA goal.

Discussions shed light on the overall policy and legislation environment, as well as the union’s capacity to develop education policy.

The trade union representatives also assessed to what extent teachers and students have benefited from the EFA movement. They looked at key elements of the Dakar strategies directly linked to the reality of the classroom, such as educational environments and the enhancement of the status, morale and professionalism of teachers.

Recommendations for stakeholdersThe EFA evaluation was concluded with concrete recommendations issued for governments, unions and EI building upon the discussions and outcomes of previous sessions.

Some of the recommendations for governments included: providing in-service training, strengthening the curriculum, restoring consultations with teachers unions, implementing universal free early childhood education, regularising contract teachers and improving distribution of teachers in remote areas.

Recommendations for unions and EI included: developing capacity building programmes, implementing new lobbying strategies, improving cooperation and exchange of information between EI affiliates at regional and national level, and joining forces to mobilise at international level.

The EI initiative, “Mobilising for Quality Education”, and the year of action starting on World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2013, was identified as a key opportunity to help build a strong international trade union movement and leverage teachers’ messages.

It will be crucial to ensure universal free quality education is a central part of any global post-2015 Development Strategy.

To access the picture gallery of the meeting please click here

Additional links

Six goals EFA

Global Monitoring Report 2012,

EI and Education Post-2015 one-pager

EI Principles for a post-2015 education and development framework