EI Roundup May 2018

Education International


EI Third World Women’s Conference 

The theme of the Conference, held 5-7 February in Marrakesh, was, “Finding a Way Through the Labyrinth: Women, Education, and Leadership”. Participating in the Conference were 305 persons from 79 countries.

The focus on leadership was both in education and in education unions. There remain striking variations in most countries in gender distribution in education sectors and there are, in general fewer women than men in leadership positions within those sectors.

It is also clear that women are, in general, under-represented in trade union leadership positions. The conference was an occasion to review these issues and “connect” with others, share experience in overcoming barriers and stereotypes. Both leadership priorities are highlighted in the 2015-2019 EI Gender Equality Action Plan. Leadership issues will continue to be addressed at the Regional and sub-regional levels and in policy discussions during the 2019 EI Congress.

62nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

EI, with other Global Unions, participated in the CSW 62 in New York on 12-16 March. In the discussion on “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and in the empowerment of rural women and girls”. EI pointed out that, although there had been progress, overall, in access to and completion of education for girls, achievement of the right to education in rural areas remained a major challenge. For example, there are problems of transportation, availability of teachers, particularly women teachers, salary delays, security problems, and poor schools and equipment, including sanitation facilities. Considerable political will and resources were necessary to ensure that good, quality public education and life-long learning are available in rural areas and that there is gender equality for pupils and teachers.

World Bank Reality Check

The World Development report of the World Bank for 2018 was, for the first time, devoted entirely to education. The report, entitled, “Learning to Realise Education’s Promise” was a disappointment, but not a surprise to EI and to others interested in free, quality education. Instead of seeking answers to the problems confronting education, including, principally, the need for public financing, it repeated increasingly discredited, misguided short-cuts to education reform, including in areas like assessment and measurement and acceptance of un-verified “evidence”.

Nevertheless, because it is a major World Bank document and will have impact on the global and national debates, EI organised a series of responses. This was necessary because, unlike the OECD and other fora for discussion and debate on education policy, the World Development Report on education was not informed by social dialogue. It failed to take advantage of the experience of those who make education happen, education professionals. Over a six-month period EI published in “Worlds of Education” a series of blogs by practitioners and academics that address and correct mis-information and dis-information in the report. These blog pieces and other information have been brought together in EIs “Reality Check” which will be available in three languages.

This publication includes some common-sense advice in line with its original mandate to the World Bank from EI General Secretary David Edwards. He writes, “We would encourage the Bank to focus its energy and resources on helping bridge the gap in funding to meet Education 2030 and leave education policy and practice to the experts: the education community”.

International Summit on the Teaching Profession, 22-23 March Lisbon

The sixth annual International Summit on the Teaching Profession on 22-23 March in Lisbon, organised by the OECD and EI, brought together as in previous meetings, OECD governments and EI member organisations from the same countries. Its focus is clear. It is on the role of professional teachers. The summits are not just one-off discussions, but also help to determine priorities on education for the OECD.

The Lisbon ISTP focused on three themes:

Schools and Communitiesthat stressed the ties between schools and their communities, including in such critical areas as building support for social cohesion, tolerance, integration and strengthening active citizenship.

Pedagogies for the Future on innovations by teachers to help shape the future of education. Unlike too many discussions, the debate was not about teachers and students adapting to new technologies, but rather using those technologies and other tools to enhance the teaching profession.

Teacher well-being, confidence, efficacy, and effectiveness, which has long been an EI priority was a theme that promises to open up interesting areas for future collaboration. It is clear that, on all continents, stress has become part of the classroom and that the well-being of teachers has a direct bearing on the quality of education.

25th Anniversary of EI celebrated in late January in Brussels

During the meeting of the EI Executive Committee, the 25th anniversary of EI was celebrated, including at a special dinner for that purpose on 25 January to which were invited many of the leaders who participated in the founding of EI. It was an occasion to celebrate the coming together of diverse traditions of teacher organisations to build a powerful global union of teachers and other education workers. EI brought together professional organisations and trade unions and, that combination has enabled EI to be more effective, both in building strong trade unions and enhancing and defending the profession.

This was also an opportunity to express appreciation to the founding General Secretary of EI, Fred van Leeuwen, who also shared his reflections on this mile-stone and outlined how the merger had strengthened the profession and teacher trade unionism at a time when education is becoming an increasingly global issue. He also said, “It is quite a privilege to work for an organisation that is of such crucial importance to so many members of the teaching profession”.

Education and Democracy

A seminar composed of members of the EI Executive Board, leaders in the creation of EI and staff discussed a first draft of a book by Fred van Leeuwen and Susan Hopgood on “Education and Democracy”. Examples and reactions to the chapters discussed in small groups will be incorporated in the final publication.

“Education and Democracy”, which is intended to be ready for World Teachers Day in 2018, is based on concern that democracy is under threat not just by authoritarian governments or military coups, but because many existing democracies are losing public confidence and trust and that the institutions of democracy are being weakened. It will explore contributions that education and education trade unions can make to strengthening democracy and elements related to it like critical thinking, tolerance, free discussion, and active citizenship.

Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM)

On the occasion of the CCEM, held from 19-23 of February, the Commonwealth Teachers Group (CTG) met. Much of their discussion focused on the privatisation and commercialisation of education and the EI Global Response campaign. Participants compared experiences with a focus on Bridge International Academies.

Free Lula

Education International and its affiliates took part in solidarity actions for Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, all over the world. As part of the global solidarity movement championing democracy, EI has urged Brazilian President Michel Temer to ensure that the principles of democracy and human rights are respected in the country. EI’s General Secretary, David Edwards, reminded President Temer that his (Temer’s) leadership in these critical times will determine “whether the flickering light of Brazilian democracy restores itself as a beacon for the world”.


Teacher trade unionists imprisoned in Iran

In a pattern of harassment, persecution, and criminalization of trade union activists for normal trade union activity, Tehran teacher union leader Esmail Abdi was taken back into the Evin prison on 20 January and. Mohammad Habibi, a teacher and board member of the Tehran branch of ITTA, was violently arrested at school and detained, also at the Evin prison. Habibi was later released on bail.

Bahrain Travel Ban

Jalila al-Salman, Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA), was prevented from leaving the country and participating in international trade union events. EI submitted a case to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) based on the government’s actions. Under normal conditions, participation in international trade union meetings has been considered a fundamental trade union right by the Committee.

Human Rights of Children in Syria

EI has written to the UN concerning violence targeting schools, students, teachers and other education personnel in Syria. The UN Human Rights Council, during its 37th session, held a high-level panel discussion discussion on 13 March to address the grave violations of the human rights of children in Syria.

Algeria Gender Action Learning Programme

In order to help to increase the participation of women in trade unions and in leadership positions in the ACCRS, a pilot project has been developed in Algeria with two EI member organisations in the country, the Syndicat National Autonome des Professeurs d'Enseignement Secondaire et Technique (SNAPEST) and Union Nationale des Travailleurs de l’Education et de la Formation(UNFEF).

The 18-month programme will seek to build awareness of the importance of gender equality issues among leadership. It aims to produce sustainable organisational change though a gender action learning process.


Lecturers Strike in Kenya

The Universities' Academic Staff Union (UASU) of Kenya began a strike on 1 March over the failure of their employer counterpart, theis currently involved in a labour dispute with the employers’ federation for public universities, IPUFFC. They have been unable to reach agreement on a collective agreement for 2017 through 2021. There have been no credible offers so far by the IPUFFC; Proposals lag far behind the rate of inflation. University staff are the only Kenyan public workers whose terms and conditions of service have not been adjusted.

There have been many incidences of harassment and intimidation of members of academic staff in an effort to get them to return to work without an agreement. EI has expressed concerns about the undermining labour relations in the higher education sector in Kenya, and called for the negotiation and implementation of a new CBA in the higher education sector.

Bridge International Academies in Kenya 

On 20 February, the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi dismissed a case of defamation with costs brought by Bridge International Academies (BIA) against the Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and its General Secretary Wilson Sossion. The case was clearly an attempt to silence the KNUT. When the case was originally filed by Bridge on 8 March 2017, the KNUT responded to Bridge’s lawyers by advising that it has no intention “to stop or not continue the publication of reports and stories … by any media house or any person as such events and information are justified and fair comment about your client." In the wake of BIA failed attempt to silence its critics, the Kenyan minister was called on to “shut down Bridge schools and any other illegal schools.“

Child Labour-Free Zones in Uganda

A study misión was held in Uganda on 23 February to 2 March to learn from the expertise developed by the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) in establishing child labour-free zones. The misión focused on a zone being developed in Erussi (West Nile). Workshops were organised with teachers and headmasters trained by UNATU, local authorities, and local project partners.

Participating organisations were the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM), the Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU), and Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ). The workshop showed how children had been re-integrated into schools and how the UNATU had benefited from the Project in terms of unión building, including organising.

Another programme being carried out in Uganda seeks to improve labour-management relations and the quality of social dialogue in the Education sector. This project, which also seeks to increase the involvement of the UNATU in Education policy-making, is being carred out in cooperation with the Norwegian unión, UEN.

Child Labour-Free Zones in Mali

In a study mission on 26 March-1 April, representatives from Fédération des Syndicats de l'Education Nationale (FESEN) of Togo, the Fédération des Syndicats Nationaux des Travailleurs de l'Education et de la Recherche (F-SYNTER), the Syndicat national des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur (SNESS) and the Syndicat national des enseignants africains du Burkina(SNEAB) of Burkina Faso, were joined by volunteers from the German teachers’ union’s (GEW) Fair Childhood Foundation. They visited six villages in Mali and discussed the work of the Syndicat National de l'Education et de la Culture UNTM (SNEC-UNTM) in mobilising against child labour. They had discussions with focal point teachers, headmasters, anti-child labour school clubs, associations of mothers of pupils, watch committees and children who have been re-integrated into schools.

However, in addition to reviewing the success of the Project in eliminating child labour, the unión representives also saw how the SNEC-UNTM has been strengthened in terms of membership growth, a better image, more influence in the community, better relations with employers and improvements in social dialogue.

Following the study mission, on 2-6 April, discussions where held on progress of the “out of work – into school” project in Mali. Since the project began in 2015, 674 teachers have been trained on children’s rights, communication, negotiations skills, development of anti-child labour school clubs and associations of mothers of pupils. As a direct result of the project, dropout rates have fallen sharply in the 45 schools covered and over 800 children have been removed from work and re-integrated in school. The influence of SNEC on child labour and on other issues has grown with these results.


Trade Union Rights Violations in Cambodia

The Cambodian Ministy of Education arbitrarily fired 11 teachers and Education officers for alleged absenteeism. The discharged staff included the former President of the Cambodia Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA), Rong Chhun. In a joint letter to the government, the International Trade unión Confederation (ITUC) and EI protested these politically-motivated firings. The two Global Unions demanded that the government respect national law and International labour standards.

Violations of Rights of Indigenoius peoples, teachers in the Philippines

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), an EI member organisation has denounced further repression in the Philippines against indigenous peoples. The State Prosecutor is seeking to have teachers, indigenous peoples’ leaders, and human rights defenders declared terrorists and oulaws. The list of alleged terrorists includes the ACT Regional Coordinator in the Cordillera región and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenoius Peoples. EI is supporting the ACT position. The government’s actions are part of a general deterioration of the respect for human rights in the Philippines.

Continuing Trade Union Repression in South Korea

The Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) remains illegal based on interference of the government in membership criteria in clear violation of international labour standards. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association in 2017 called on the government to eliminate legal restrictions on membership that were used to de-legalise the union. EI called on the Republic of Korea to re-certify the union.

In addition, EI called for the immediate release of KCTU President Han Sang-gyun and the withdrawal of the charges against Lee Young-joo, former General Secretary of KCTU and former Vice-President of KTU. Lee Young-joo was arrested in the hospital by the police on 31 December 2017 following a ten-day hunger strike. Both were charged with violating the law due to their involvement in a demonstration on 14 November 2015 against the former government’s regressive labour law reform.


Negotiations in Denmark

A lock-out of teachers in 2013 imposed employer positions on Danish teachers. It weakened the traditional authority of collective bargaining in determining wages and working conditions. The result was that crucial working conditions issues, particularly working time, relevant to the quality of education, were regulated by legislation rather than through free collective bargaining.

In the current round of bargaining, the Danish Union of Teachers (DLF) was part of a larger process that involved the entire public sector at national, regional, and municipal levels. Although an agreement was reached at all levels late in April, approval of the agreement depends on the outcome of membership votes, the results of which will be known on the 6th of June. EI and ETUCE have expressed their full solidarity with the DLF. Some details of the issues are provided in this update on the tentative agreement.

UCU Victory in the United Kingdom

After a long and effective strike, the University and College Union (UCE) made considerable progress on the major issue of the dispute. Management tried, unilaterally, to impose a fundamental change in the system of pensions. They moved to replace established defined benefit pensions with defined contribution pensions. That would have created uncertainty and insecurity and many employees would have had significant cuts in pension benefits. The strike generated considerable participation, media attention, and public support. The resolution of the dispute maintains the principle of defined benefit pensions.

Teachers hit by continued repression in Turkey

Repression in Turkey intensified following the failed coup d’état in the country in 2016 More than 37,000 education workers have been affected (dismissed or suspended) so far by the purge initiated by the authorities. Egitim Sen and KESK members are still being arrested on grounds related to their union activities. Elif Çuhadar, treasurer of Egitim Sen who was a panellist at the EI Conference on Refugee Education, was arrested in Ankara on 6 February. Six Egitim Sen local branches leaders and members were arrested in Izmir in March. EI, ETUCE, and member organisations continue to extend solidarity to Turkish education workers and intervene at national, European, and international levels.

Trade Union Role on Professional Issues

The ETUC conducted a survey as a part of their project, “Education Trade Unions for the Teaching Profession. Strengthening the capacity of education trade unions to represent teachers’ professional needs in social dialogue”. Nearly two-thirds of education trade unions (out of 58 unions which participated in the survey) indicated that they provide professional training directly to members (62.1%). However, regarding involvement in social dialogue, the responses suggest that education trade unions are less likely to participate in social dialogue on professional issues than more traditional industrial issues. The project is designed, through capacity and confidence building, ensure that European trade unions are at the table in discussions that are relevant to the profession of teaching.

Gender Equality in the Teaching Profession through Social Dialogue 

The ETUCE capacity building project on gender equality focuses on the work of ETUCE member organisations on promoting gender equality in the teaching profession and within education trade unions and providing them with concrete tools and practices to address the challenges of gender inequality in the education sector using different social dialogue instruments.

The project also intends to raise awareness on the need to include the discussion on gender equality in social dialogue at national and European level in the education sector with the aim to enhance the professional status of teachers, trainers and school leaders and to make the teaching profession more attractive for both men and women.

The ETUCE will examine national findings related to existing career segregation in the teaching profession, with a special focus on on sectorial segregation, work-life balance, career development and recognition, gender pay and pension gaps, and gender inequality in decision-making.

EFFECT Project in Higher Education

ETUCE is a partner in a project led by the European University Association. The "European Forum for Enhanced Collaboration in Teaching", (EFFECT) project aims to facilitate the exchange of experience and effective methods in terms of university teachers’ development at the European level.

The project reflects on such challenges for higher education teaching as the growing and ever more diverse student body; drop-out and retention; maximising opportunities; ICT-based learning; and recognising teaching excellence and its link to student success.

Education and Migration

Acompilation of four studies plus recommendations to the EU to improve education for refugees and migrants was presented at the European Economic and Social Council.. ,"The event brought together researchers from the project, trade union delegates, and interested parties to discuss the integration of refugee and migrant children into schools and the pathways to employment for refugee and migrant teachers. Research in five countries (Italy, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Poland) was supplemented by national capacity building projects in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, and UK.

The ETUCE has participated in a number of EU consultations on migration and refugees and has stressed the role of social partners in ensuring that the children of migrants and refugees are properly educated and have the opportunity to be integrated and enjoy the rights of other children. Several ETUCE member organisations are active in migration-related education issues. The need to train teachers to deal with the problems of migrant children, including trauma has also been emphasised.

Bologna Process

The ETUCE Higher Education and Research Standing Committee (HERSC), a statutory body that meets twice a year, has been focusing on the: Implementation of the Bologna process, including influencing the Bologna-Follow-Up Group meetings, and its working groups and advisory groups, including:

· Quality Assurance; participating in the European Quality Assurance Registry;

· Academic Freedom;

· External dimensions;

· Governance reform;

· Mobility;

· Modernising universities;

· The Social dimension;

· Student-Centred Learning;

· Supportive Environment for Learning;

· Investment to higher education and research; and

· University Ranking

During the 9-10 April 2018, HERSC meeting the HERSC members exchanged their views on the future of the Bologna Process and discussed the ETUCE Report and Recommendations for Bologna Follow Up Group Ministerial Meeting in Paris which is taking place on 23-25 May 2018.

ETUCE is trying to ensure that teacher unions will influence the progression of the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area, The priorities of education unions need to be part of conversations and policy making in regards to higher education at the European level.

Latin America

Justice and Rule of Law in Brazil

EI and its member organisations joined with its affiliates in Brazil to protest and the mis-carriage of justice that resulted in former President Lula being imprisoned on flimsy, unsubstantiated charges. The actions of activist judges and the rulers of Brazil have the effect of blocking Lula from running in the Presidential election, where the polls show that he would be a strong favourite. The political manipulation of the system of justice has long-term dangers to the rule of law in Brazil and to the credibility of its governance.

Global Response in Latin America

A study in Peru by La Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona measured the extent of privatization and commercialization of education in Peru. The study was used to stimulate several discussions in Peru, including with the government, and was covered in the media.

A similar, national approach to the Global response campaign is taking place in Honduras. The extent of changes as well as government attitudes are being examined. EI will conduct a research project in Honduras on privatization and related issues.

Representatives of EI attended the World Social Forum in Brazil between 12 and 18 March. They presented the Global Response campaign and encouraged others to support it. A trade union panel composed of people from Latin America and other continents explained their experience with Bridge International Academies and others involved in the privatisation of education.

North America and the Caribbean

The Janus vs. AFSME case in the US

As part of larger right-wing campaigns against trade unions in the United States, several attempts have been made over the years to make illegal any requirement that public employees pay fees related to the services that they receive if they are not union members. State laws require trade unions to represent all employees in bargaining units in collective bargaining. They must also defend individual grievances of workers regardless of whether they are members.

The current case before the US Supreme Court is Janus vs. AFSME. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is a large public sector union, but they impact of the decision will go far beyond AFSME and its members. Affected unions will include the two US affiliates of EI, the AFT and the NEA. The case was heard on 26 February. A similar case that went before the court in 2017 resulted in a 4-4 tie. However, with Senate confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, a nominee of President Trump, the Supreme Court now has its full nine members.

If the Supreme Court sides with Janus and authorises workers to enjoy the same benefits as union members, but without paying any fees, it is expected to cause reduction in the size and strength of public sector trade unions as “free riders” stop paying fees.

Privatisation of work of tutors at TELUQ University in Quebec

On January 10, members of Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN) at TÉLUQ University indicated their readiness to go on strike, if necessary, to protect their university from a threat of privatisation. As part of cost cutting measures, the management of TÉLUQ University announced its intention to strip university tutors of up to 75% of their tasks. Their work would be transferred to private sub-contractors resulting in layoffs and further precarious employment in the sector.

Upcoming events

28-31 May - Global Response planning and research launch Lagos, Nigeria

11-13 June - Seminar: "The Future of the Teaching Profession in Africa" Johannesburg, South Africa

13-14 June - Final Conference Social Dialogue capacity building project III Sofia, Bulgaria

17-18 June - EI/UCL final EQUIPPPS workshop Brussels, Belgium

26-28 September - Global Response Planning and research launch Buenos Aires, Argentina

3-5 October - Latin America region Global Response evaluation and planning meeting Montevideo, Uruguay

5 October – World Teachers’ Day

7-9 November - Global Response research launch Abidjan, Ivory Coast

12-14 November - IFHER Conference Taipei, Taiwan

13 December - Conference of EI affiliates in OECD Member States Mexico, Mexico