Bob Harris, EI Senior Consultant has chaired the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Education, Training and Employment Policy since 1994, shortly after the creation of EI.
The Working Group, located at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France, comprises EI affiliates in OECD member countries and national trade union centres affiliated to TUAC. With growing attendance over the years, it has become the focal point for relations with OECD on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), the annual Education at a Glance report, country reviews of education, and significant OECD studies such as “Teachers Matter”, “School Leadership”, “Growing Unequal”, and earlier studies such as “Education Policy Analysis”, “What Schools for the Future?” and “Economics and Finance of Life-Long Learning”.
Current OECD projects include the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and a Feasibility Study for the international Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO). EI affiliates are positive about PIAAC but sceptical about AHELO. The Working Group relates to two OECD Committees with representatives from the member countries, the Education Policy Committee (EDPC) and the Employment Labour and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC), and to the respective Directorates.
Speaking at a farewell for Bob Harris with Working Group members, the EDPC Chair and the Education and ELSA Directors, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen noted that TUAC was also the focal point for trade union advocacy at the G8 and the G20. Noting Bob’s experience and contribution, he underlined the importance of the Working Group in providing a direct link for EI affiliates with OECD as well as these major summits.
TUAC General Secretary John Evans highlighted the excellent cooperation between TUAC and EI, and noted that education and training remained a priority issue for the whole of the trade union movement.
Bob recalled that OECD’s interest in education dated from 1974, when he had first visited the institution with an Australian delegation, and subsequently wrote a critical paper on OECD’s approach to Teacher Policies. OECD’s approach had evolved since then, but the key to effective reform would always be the engagement of education unions, he added.
Following consultations with EI, the Trade Union Council of the UK has nominated John Bangs to succeed Bob Harris at the next TUAC Plenary meeting on 23 May. Former Assistant General Secretary of the NUT of the UK, John is currently a visiting professor at Cambridge University, a research fellow at the London Institute of Education, and Special Consultant to EI.