The Executive Board of Education International, the global union federation representing 30 million education personnel across 171 countries, has concluded its 37th meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, with a clear plan of action leading up to its World Congress in July 2011.
EI President, Susan Hopgood, welcomed 40 education union leaders to the four-day meeting, from 21-24 March, which included representatives from South African member organisations – SADTU, SAOU and NAPTOSA – who hosted the Board meeting and are co-hosting the upcoming Congress.
The Board noted the devastating natural disasters that had occurred in New Zealand and Japan which had significantly impacted on teachers and disrupted children’s education. The Board conveyed solidarity and praise for the work of member organisations helping with the immediate and long term recovery process. It also noted uprisings for democracy, education and workers’ rights in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as in Sudan and Ivory Coast, where EI and its affiliates were involved in rescuing a Board member who faced imminent danger from the political instability. The Board adopted solidarity resolutions to support education workers in the USA and Honduras whose collective bargaining and union rights continue to be violated.
The President reviewed the successful work of EI at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New York, held in conjunction with the OECD, as well as education ministers and trade union leaders, and described the new opportunities this would give to influence government policies. The Board debated the World Bank’s Education Strategy paper to which EI was invited for a much too limited consultation, and heard teachers’ concerns about the consequence of any policy shift from ‘Education for All’ to ‘Learning for All’. The Board was briefed on successes in the Quality Educators for All projects in Mali and Uganda to train unqualified teachers and the production of a teacher competency profile. It also debated next steps for engaging affiliates in the Global Unions’ Quality Public Services campaign.
A major focus of the Executive Board was to review and approve details connected to the sixth World Congress in July. The Board approved the Congress agenda and programme, it reviewed an over-arching education policy paper which it agreed to consult on further with member organisations. The Board debated matters relating to resolutions from member organisations, noting those on teacher migration and mobility; education support staff; public education and the economic crisis, gender equality, and recruitment and organising using innovative strategies including social media. The Board also took note of developments for democratic and independent unions in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Board also heard how the Turkish government continues to deny Gülcin Isbert, the nominated recipient of EI’s human rights award, from travelling to Cape Town to collect her award. The Board agreed to encourage member organisations to continue making representations to the Turkish authorities for her release.