Education International (EI) is the voice of the education sector worldwide, representing teachers and other education employees at all levels of education – from early childhood education to higher education. As the world’s largest Global Union Federation (GUF), and the only one representing education employees in virtually every corner of the globe, EI unites all teachers and other education employees and gives expression to their collective views on education policy, the profession, terms and conditions of employment, and related matters.
EI is guided by the principles of democracy, human rights and social justice. It is independent of governments and international inter-governmental organisations. It is self-governing and free from influence or control by any political party or ideological or religious grouping. EI promotes and protects the rights of all teachers and education employees and campaigns for quality education for all. Education must serve both the values of the society at the local and global levels as well as cultural, democratic, social, and environmental needs. Instilling these values at an early age is extremely important as it provides the basis for a life filled with active civic participation and citizenship.
EI firmly believes in promoting education as human right and a public good. Democratically elected governments, whether at the local, regional, or national level, have the key responsibility for ensuring that free, universally accessible education is well-resourced and constantly updated and developed. Public authorities should constantly aim to improve the quality of the education system, by establishing and implementing a legislative framework that ensures a high-quality service, professional standards, access for all and a representative governance system.
EI opposes undermining ofn of the education sector through privatization and commercialization. The move towards privatization threatens to undermine the Education For All initiative by transforming education from a public service to a commodity, inherently limiting its accessibility to only the most privileged students.
If a state does not have the capacity to provide education for all, a strong bond of international solidarity is needed as support. This is essential for achieving the Dakar EFA Goals and the MDG’s education related goals. This is also true of the Sustainable Development Goals, agreed in 2015 are to be met. States or territories with weak political systems, failed states, states afflicted with violence or natural disasters, contested territories or non-democratically governed regions require international aid and assistance to build education systems; vital to their social and economic development.
Because every citizen of every state has the right to a quality education, providing education that serves various students’ needs will be a primary challenge for lifelong learning, from early childhood education to primary and secondary education, all the way up to higher education. A crucial ingredient of quality education is quality teaching. As such, teachers at all levels of education must be appropriately trained and qualified and should be given opportunities to continue their professional development throughout their careers.
There have been no resolutions passed by the World Congresses of Education International specifically addressing primary and secondary education. EI’s policy can regarding the subject can be found in the Education Policy Paper, which is updated and amended at each World Congress.
As a very significant proportion of the members of EI member organisations are primary and secondary teachers and other education workers, the vast majority of EI activities relate to those education sectors.
For example, the Unite for Quality Education campaign helped lead up to the inclusion of a positive UN Sustainable Development Goal on Education, Goal 4. This was EIs largest and most effective campaign to date and mobilised, in particular, primary and secondary education employees. Its three pillars are quality teaching, quality tools for teaching and learning, and quality environments for teaching and learning.
That campaign continues, in part, through fighting privatisation and commercialisation of education. There are attempts to increase the role of market forces and market thinking in education. This ranges from the use of market tools, terminology and measurement techniques in public schools to promotion of systems of standardised testing to full or partial privatisation.
New methods to micro-manage teachers produce de-professionalisation. They undermine teachers by removing space for teachers to exercise their profession. EI promotes the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Teachers (1966), which focuses on preserving and developing the professional contributions of teachers by protecting their autonomy and stressing that they must have high-quality training and be able to adapt curriculum and teaching methods to the needs of students. That Recommendation also makes it clear that education is about tolerance, human rights, and democracy and not just transmitting a narrow range of easily measurable skills.
De-professionalisation is a major source of stress and one of the reasons that far too many teachers are leaving the profession. It also makes it difficult to recruit enough teachers to address a teacher shortage that exists in many countries.
The extensive work of EI on defending the human rights of teachers and other education workers is often focused on the activities of workers in the primary and secondary education sectors. In addition to supporting workers who are attacked and imprisoned, EI also acts to support collective bargaining and the full range of trade union rights and will as other human rights, in particular, the right to education.