EI at heart of new International Education Workforce Initiative

Education International’s President, Susan Hopgood, has been appointed Co-Vice Chair of the Working Group of the newly established International Education Workforce Initiative.

The Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) has been set up to give policymakers options strengthening the education workforce to meet the 21st Century’s demands and improving education quality. An international expert group, its establishment was a key recommendation in the Education Commission’s Learning Generation report. The Commission itself was set up to reinvigorate the case for investing in education and to chart a pathway for increased investment in order to develop the potential of the world’s young people. Also named as a member of the Working Group was EI’s Executive Board member Daniel B. Lafrenière.

Priority areas

The EWI will focus on the following four priority areas in primary and secondary education:

·         Defining the changing role of the teacher and exploring the introduction and professionalisation of other roles within the workforce, taking into account the potential and challenges of first generation learners

·         Reinforcing existing teachers’ intrinsic motivation and practice through professional development

·         Expanding and strengthening the education workforce through exploration of innovation throughout the teacher life cycle (also addressing specific challenges such as shortages in rural areas, STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] and gender imbalances)

·         Defining and strengthening leadership of both men and women at school and district levels

Expected outcomes

The EWI is expected to devise an Education Workforce Report for policymakers to inform education workforce reform. It also aims to produce a series of country specific proposals for education workforce reform to be co-developed by and for policymakers in the countries represented on the working group. This aims to address specific country needs, and will be produced in collaboration with local research partners and other actors who could help sustain the reforms in the longer term.

EWI members

The EWI comprises:

§  The Working Group of approximately 15 members. This includes representatives from governments, educators, and health and technology experts from around the world. It is tasked with developing an updated vision for the role of the teacher and other roles within the education workforce, and will be supported by researchers

§  An advisory group comprising stakeholders, including the International Task Force on Teachers for 2030, international agencies, practitioners, non-state actors, and thought leaders to provide specific expertise and help shape outputs

§  Research organisation(s) to lead the research

§  A secretariat, initially led by the Education Commission

EI: EWI, an opportunity for meaningful change for education and teachers?

“We welcome the Education Commission’s decision to come up with the Education Workforce Initiative,” said Education International (EI) President Susan Hopgood. “The Initiative provides a wonderful opportunity for us to work together to professionalise teaching and non-teaching roles, for the benefit of our teachers, education support personnel and students.”

Hopgood was speaking at an Education Commission meeting in Seoul, South Korea, held from 13-15 December 2017. However, she cautioned that the EWI should not undermine the professionalisation of the profession by proffering solutions that suggest replacing trained and qualified teachers with contract workers. She insisted that the needs of both teachers and education support personnel should be addressed.

EI’s vision of professionalisation

Outlining EI’s vision of professionalisation, Hopgood reminded participants that, “first and foremost, we believe that teaching is a profession”. This should be defined by a theoretical body of knowledge and concomitant skills, high-quality pre-service academic and professional preparation, legal recognition and professional closure, induction and professional development, work autonomy, a professional code of ethics, and self-regulation.

“We believe that all students should be taught by well-trained, highly qualified, trusted, supported and motivated teachers, and learn in healthy, safe and well-resourced institutions,” she added. “A whole-school, whole-student approach, where teachers and education support personnel work together to support students to achieve their full potential is essential.”

Concrete measures

Hopgood also noted that EI has taken of concrete measures to move teaching towards professionalisation. For instance, in order to promote professionalism in teaching, EI member organisations collectively developed and unanimously adopted an EI Declaration on Professional Ethics in 2001, and updated it in 2004. EI has also advocated for the full implementation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)/UNESCO Recommendations on the Status of Teachers, and is developing a global framework on professional teaching standards, in close collaboration with UNESCO and the International Task Force on Teachers. These guidelines will help strengthen national professional teaching standards, teaching and learning across the world.

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