Today, 1400 educators gathered in Bangkok for the 8th Education International World Congress. During the opening ceremony, President Susan Hopgood welcomed delegates and began her speech with a challenge to them and educators across the world: “Are you ready to take the lead?”
“Taking the lead means advancing our profession, promoting democracy, human and trade union rights and quality free public education for all,” the Education International (EI) leader stated.
Hopgood went on to note that union renewal is one of the key challenges to be addressed at Congress: “We are going to discuss union renewal – asserting the relevance of our unions in defining education policy to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 and organising and mobilising young members in the work of the union”.
Climate change will also be high on the EI Congress agenda, Hopgood stressed, insisting that “climate justice must have an education face and a teacher’s voice in every area of the world.” Education is a powerful tool for raising awareness about the global climate emergency and bringing up new generations of informed and responsible citizens.
Another key message in Hopgood’s speech was the threat democracy is facing across the world: “Aggressive nationalism is on the rise. Disinformation is being used as a weapon and division sown for private benefit. But truth matters. Despite alienation and pessimism, the need for facts is clearer than ever before.” Teachers and education professionals have an absolute responsibility to call out the lies and present their students with the facts: “We need to be fighters against lies and darkness.”
Hopgood concluded her Congress opening speech with a rallying call to the global education community: “In our time now, with democracy literally locked in struggle for survival in the face of despots, we have no choice. There is no ground to give. There is no wisdom in the waiting. It is time.”
A united trade union world
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Federation and head of the Council of Global Unions, of which EI is a member, addressed words of encouragement and solidarity to his colleagues during the opening ceremony.
He centered his speech around the necessary evolution of unions in a changing world and underlined the importance of union collaboration: “Education professionals are a vital part of the trade union movement. The labour movement needs to stand with educators in your struggles.”
Welcome to Thailand
The opening ceremony was a celebration of Thai culture, with singing and dancing performances framing the speeches by authorities and union leaders.
The Education Council of Thailand and EI Thai affiliates welcomed participants to their country.