One of the principal aims of Education International is to promote the right to education for all persons in the world. EI advocates for free quality public education for all. EI believes that education is a human right and a public good which should be accessible to all. It is the responsibility of public authorities to ensure that every child, youth and adult has access to high quality education appropriate to his or her needs. EI supports the Dakar Education for All (EFA) targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed in 2000 and has been consistently campaigning for their achievement by 2015.
EI’s policy on education is enunciated in various Congress Resolutions adopted by the world body of teachers since its formation. Supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a series of international, multi-lateral instruments, Education International maintains that all barriers to education must be removed in order to make it accessible for all persons, regardless of their gender, background or personal characteristics. EI therefore promotes the concept of equal opportunity and access to all levels of education. No-one should be disadvantaged because of perceived differences, including those based upon gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith, cultural or economic background, or personal characteristics. People with disabilities should be assisted to achieve their maximum potential.
The 6th World Congress of Education International, held in Cape Town, South Africa, in July 2011, adopted a comprehensive Policy Paper on Education, Building the Future through Quality Education. This policy statement is underpinned by concepts which are central to EI’s philosophy and which represent the core values and demands of the education union movement. These include quality education as a human right, education provided by public authorities and available freely to all, inclusive education and equality in education and society and high professional status for teachers. Education International's policy states clearly that education is a human right and public good, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Quality education nurtures human talent and creativity, thereby contributing to the personal and professional development of the individual person, as well as to social, cultural, economic, political and environmental development of society at large. It promotes peace, democracy, creativity, solidarity, inclusion, a commitment to a sustainable environment, and international and intercultural understanding. It provides people with the critical knowledge, abilities and skills that are needed to conceptualise, question and solve problems that occur both locally and globally.
EI’s Education Policy Statement is available here:
The importance of quality teaching for quality education cannot be underestimated. To this end, teachers at all levels of education must be appropriately trained and qualified. Teachers should continue their professional development upon recruitment through a period of induction into the profession with the support by a mentor and should have access throughout their careers to high quality continuous professional development and learning. These opportunities should be provided by the public authorities or other employers at no cost to individual teachers.
Several obstacles hinder access to quality education for all, notably the shortage of qualified teachers, inadequate infrastructure and resources and gender inequality, with the world-wide illiteracy rate for women far higher than that for men. The HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, violent conflict, child labour, natural disasters and other environmental and human factors continue to undermine the provision of, and access to quality education for all. The financial and economic crisis, which started in 2008, has seen many governments reduce their investment in education, impacting negatively on access and quality.
Free quality basic education is one of the best solutions for combating child labour. Free quality basic education is also a prerequisite for lifelong learning, as people need to develop sufficient skills to be able to participate fully in society. Any economic policy that privatizes and reduces public investment in education will marginalize children and adults living in poverty while reducing the quality of public education.
The Dakar Framework for Action, calling for the achievement of EFA goals by 2015, requires a great global effort, joining the forces of all governments, civil Society, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and education unions, and intergovernmental agencies, including the UN with its specialised agencies and programmes. Governments should implement the recommendation of the Delors Commission to allocate at least 6% of their GNP to education; today, the majority of the governments fail to achieve this level of investment.
EI believes that, in addition to local solutions, the challenges confronting education and the teaching profession require global solutions. Several global measures have to be put in place to achieve education for all: developed countries must write off the official debts of the least developed countries, with resources thus saved re-allocated to education and other public services, all developed countries should allocate at least 0.7% of their GDP to development assistance and regressive lending policies of international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank must be reformed as they jeopardize the public provision of education. National policies and action plans to achieve education for all must be developed and implemented in partnership with civil society, including NGOs and education unions. EI, therefore, strongly calls for the active participation of teachers in the development and implementation of education policies, plans and curricula, through their representative organisations.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Education International and its broad coalition of teacher unions, and non-governmental organisations joined forces to launch the Global Campaign for Education (GCE). The alliance represents organisations active in nearly 200 countries, including Education International, Oxfam International, Action Aid International, the Global March Against Child Labour, and dozens of regional and national NGO coalitions. Together, they lobby for the attainment of EFA by 2015. Every year in April, together with its GCE partners, EI organizes a Global Action Week by mobilizing its affiliated organizations around the world to rally politicians and governments to fulfil their promise made in Dakar, Senegal, to provide education to all children by 2015. Time is running out! Governments and development partners need to scale up their investment in education and accelerate progress as we move towards the target date of 2015.
For more information, visit the GCE Global Action Week web site: http://www.globalactionweek.org/
EI has been consistently involved in the EFA coordination mechanism led by UNESCO. EI sits on the Advisory Board of UNESCO's EFA Global Monitoring Report, a publication which provides a yearly assessment of the EFA process, and is also part of the UNESCO EFA Steering Committee. In 2003, EI launched a Europe for Education campaign which has resulted in the passing of a resolution at the European Parliament on increasing development cooperation towards education programs. EI is also a Board Member of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a partnership supporting education financing in developing countries. EI also supports governments to address the issue of teacher shortages and educational quality through the Quality Educators for All program, a joint initiative undertaken with Oxfam Novib.