As stated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every one has the right to education and “technical and professional education shall be made generally available”. Education International considers that all individuals have the right to equal access to education at all levels and at any age without discrimination and without financial ability to pay deterrmining the ability to pursue. EI believes that promoting greater access to vocational education and training (VET)1 is particularly important because of the crucial role it plays in providing opportunities for people from all backgrounds, including those who have been marginalised in the labour market.
EI recognizes that vocational education and training is particularly vulnerable to emerging commercial pressures worldwide. Once the primary responsibility of public institutions in many countries, the provision of vocational education and training now straddles the public, private and for-profit sectors. Economic globalization, trade liberalization, new information and communication technologies, labour market deregulation, and the growth in cross-border provision have intensified the commercialization of vocational education at both the national and international levels. Taken together, these developments threaten to undermine quality, accessibility, equity, and the status and employment rights of staff.
EI promotes the advancement of vocational education and training in particular through the implementation of ILO and UNESCO conventions and recommendations. They are:
1 Alternative terms used internationally include "technical and vocational education and training" (TVET), "vocational and technical education and training" (VTET), "technical and vocational education" (TVE), "vocational and technical education" (VTE), and "further education and training" (FET).
EI's policy on vocational education and training (VET) is mostly shaped by the various resolutions passed by the consecutive World Congresses since 1995. EI believes that educational institutions at all levels must provide individuals with a range of knowlegde and skills that allow them to not only pursue meaningful work, but also participate fully in all aspects of social life.
This comprehensive approach is today being challenged, in particular by globalisation and the emergence of the so-called “knowledge-based economy”. In response to these challenges, EI was mandated in 2004 to form a task force on VET in an effort to begin the process of developing comprehensive policy on the sector. At the fifth World Congress in Berlin in July 2007, a resolution on VET was adopted that underlined many of the themes identified by the task force.
The task force completed its initial work in 2006 and 2007, by developing a set of guidelines on the cross-border provision of VET. These guidelines are intended to address and counter-balance the threats posed by trade and investment agreements not only to the jobs and living standards of staff employed in the sector, but also to the quality of the education and training VET students receive.
Currently, EI focuses on promoting these guidelines to prevent the inclusion of VET in trade negotiations such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). As VET is a sector under constant reform, EI is further developing a comprehensive policy package on VET for staff employed in the sector.
World Congress Resolutions:
The work of Education International in the field of vocational education and training (VET) includes the protection and development of the rights of teachers and other personnel, and strengthening the voice of trade unions in this sector.
In 2004, EI set up a task force in an effort to start a comprehensive policy in the VET sector. The task force produced an initial report as well as a set of guidelines on cross-border provision of VET. EI actively promotes these guidelines to relevant international institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)and its International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNEVOC), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the European Union (EU). It also encourages its member organisations to adopt and promote them nationally.
Within Europe, both EI and the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) monitor and respond to developments that are part of the Bruges-Copenhagen Process. These include the proposals by the European Commission for a credit system for VET, a quality assurance system for VET as well as the adopted European Qualifications Framework.
EI continues the work on VET through its task force as well as a number of other related activities.
For more information about the Bruges-Copenhagen Process, please click here.