Teachers are key to the future of quality education, to the development of their societies, their economies and to the shaping of the world of the 21st century, was the message from delegates at Education International's global Unite for Quality Education Conference in Montreal.
The four-day event began with a strong statement from prominent speakers and participants from the five continents, who have gathered in Montreal to underline the necessity to defend the rights of both educators and students.
The first session of the conference, devoted to the reality of education in OECD countries, revolved around the relationship between equity and quality. Can there be quality education without equity?
Education International's (EI) president, Susan Hopgood, and secretary general Fred van Leeuwen, have been very clear about it: equity is key, and EI's affiliates are at the core of the defense of public quality education throughout the world. Teachers and educators are those who can best defend the idea of equity and quality of our education systems.
At the same time, privatisation is taking its toll on public services, harming equity and endangering teachers' rights. Big corporations are taking over education systems everywhere in the world, controlling the market of standardised testing and private education establishments. This all in spite of OECD's and UNESCO's warnings that privatisation inevitably leads to inequality.
Van Leeuwen said that the importance of uniting for quality education is self-evident. "Our common vision of education is imposing itself. Quality, access to education and equity are key values that can be increasingly found in reports by OECD, UNESCO and the United Nations."
The campaign Unite for Quality Education will be presented to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon in September. In the lead up to New York, EI's member organisations will organise to promote the values of quality education all over the world.