France: education trade union movement says goodbye to one of its longtime leaders

published 29 August 2017 updated 30 August 2017

Michel Gevrey, a force in education for more nearly 60 years both at home in France and around the world, is being remembered by colleagues following his death this week at the age of 87.

The education community is remembering Michel Gevreyafter his death on the 27 August.

Since becoming a teacher in the early 1950s, Gevrey, who was born in Paris in 1930, would go on to dedicate his entire professional life to education and the empowerment of teachers. Even a bout with tuberculosis at the beginning of his career failed to slow him down.

As his attention increasingly focused on union issues he became more politically involved, which led to leadership roles. From 1976 to 1985, Gevrey held the post of National Secretary for the National Union of Teachers and College Professors, then known as SNI-PEGC and today SE-UNSA, one of France’s largest teachers’ unions.

His influence was also felt across Europe and on the international stage. Prior to the formation of Education International (EI), Gevrey was an Executive Committee member, Vice-President and briefly President of the now defunct World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP).

“Michel’s contributions to the teaching profession will live on through his legacy,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, who worked closely with Gevrey over the years.

Following his retirement at the administrative level, Gevrey continued his involvement in youth education and local politics. As Secretary General of La Jeunesse au Plein Air, Gevrey put his energy into seeing that education went beyond the classroom and into nature. He also held the post of Deputy Mayor responsible for education for the Paris suburb of  Sarcelles.