Communicators and organisers from EI’s member affiliates came together in Brussels from 3-5 February to discuss strategic approaches and develop joint actions to campaign for the right to free, universal, quality education at national, regional and global level.
The EI Organising Network (Orgnet) comprises representatives from EI’s affiliates who build and organise campaigns on the ground; the Communicators’ Network (ComNet) brings together those dealing with media and communications in their unions.
Privatisation review On 3 February, Orgnet members met to identify priorities and objectives around the privatisation and commercialisation of public education.
To help inform and stimulate debate, Antoni Verger, from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, gave a presentation - via video conference - on the different forms of education privatisation.
Verger also offered an overview of EI’s current research project: The Political Economy of Education Privatisation: towards a systematic review. The project will analyse the politics and economics behind privatisation, identify the main actors at the global level, and explore education unions’ strategies to counter these privatisation trends.
Levering strategic action On 4 February, EI consultant Nora Wintor outlined EI’s study on Trends in Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining since the Financial Crisis. The study provides a valuable insight into the disturbing trends in freedom of association and collective bargaining in the education sector in many parts of the world.
The General Secretary of the International Trade Union Organisation (ITUC) Sharan Burrow gave an overview of the ITUC organising framework. “The central challenge is union growth”, she stated, “organising to ensure we have democratic power to realise rights and shape a world of work that delivers sustainable jobs, secure incomes and social protection for both women and men.”
The Orgnet outcomes were brought to a joint meeting with the ComNet, where both groups discussed communication strategies to challenge the arguments around privatisation and to create a counter-narrative to inform and engage civil society globally.
Both of EI’s Deputy General Secretaries highlighted two key upcoming events for EI and member affiliates in 2014. Haldis Holst introduced EI’s Second World Women’s Conference being held from 7-9 April in Dublin, Ireland. David Edwards talked about the EI Global Education Conference, taking place from 26-31 May in Montreal, Canada.
Edwards also reminded participants about the main objectives of EI’s flagship global campaign, Unite for Quality Education:
- Raise public awareness about the three pillars of quality education;
- Join forces to not only resist, but also reverse, current trends of education privatisation worldwide;
- Ensure that universal free quality education is a central goal for the post-2015 sustainable development framework.
Campaign reach Holst went on to underline that the Unite campaignis an umbrella for EI affiliates’ national campaigns as well as an opportunity to pursue common objectives at the global level.
In addition, participants reflected on specific activities at national, regional and global level to build momentum for a joint Day of Action in October 2014, as a culmination event of the Unite campaign. Four working groups outlined different proposals around mobilising and actively involving educators, union members, and the broad community to help achieve the campaign objectives.
On 5 February, after a video workshop, ComNet members attended the High-Level Discussion: Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda organised by the Mission of Norway to the European Union (EU) and UNESCO.
To access the picture gallery of the meeting please go here