Unite for quality education!


For those like me who believe that education is a right, it was an inspiring few days.

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in education meetings at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and the message from the international community to policymakers was clear: every student has a right to quality education.

On several occasions, the message was delivered strongly by Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani shot by the Taliban for daring to defy their edicts against the education of girls.

Her courage and her ability to translate a devastating personal trauma into action has helped inspire the growing movement for access matched to quality in education.

This movement is changing the dialogue about our future.

Quality is at the heart of Education International (EI)’s 20-year mission advocating for the teacher training, teaching tools and learning environments necessary to provide quality education to every student.

Today, that mission is helping to lead a global movement, with EI’s more than 30 million educators from 170 nations mobilising and joining with parents and students, communities and governments, NGOs, business leaders and international organisations, to demand access to a quality education for every student.

To further emphasise this, on 4 October, 2013 – on the eve of World Teachers Day on 5 October – Education International is launching in New York, Paris and in cities around the world, a year-long campaign for quality education.

The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness about the indomitable role quality education plays in the development of the individual and society.

It is to also remind decision-makers that education is a conditio sine qua non to development and that it must therefore be the bedrock of any post -2015 Millennium Development Goals agenda.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has been a staunch defender of educators and their rights, for example highlighting the work teachers do in difficult conditions in Colombia and Pakistan.

“All people have a right to universally accessible public services. Education is especially fundamental to the equitable and sustainable development of democratic societies,” ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said in her acceptance speech after being elected at the second ITUC World Congress in Vancouver, June 2010.

Together with our partners, we believe that quality education is more than measurable learning outcomes. It includes, but is not limited to, numeracy and literacy.

While these are important, they are not sufficient to contribute to the full development of the individual and society. Higher order capabilities, including problem solving, innovation and creativity are essential and so are social and life skills such as good citizenship.

The three pillars of EI’s Unite for Quality Education campaign are:

  • Quality teaching – ensured through the recruitment of high calibre candidates to teaching, high quality initial teacher education and continuous professional development, as well as attractive salaries and conditions of service determined through collective bargaining and other forms of social dialogue.
  • Quality tools– appropriate curricula, inclusive teaching and learning materials/resources, including textbooks and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). A quality curriculum that is flexible and designed through an inclusive process that guarantees teachers participation is highly desirable. ICT can be a powerful tool that can support teaching and learning. However, ICT cannot and must not replace the teacher.
  • Quality environments – healthy, safe, secure, supportive and comfortable teaching and learning environments with appropriate facilities to support student learning and to enable teachers to teach effectively. Learning environments must cater for the needs of all learners, especially girls and children with disabilities.

Following the launch of the initiative, EI and its member organisations will continue to engage in advocacy and dialogue about quality education with partners and national governments.

On national, regional and international levels, EI and its affiliates will hold meetings, discussions, actions and more to bring quality education to the forefront of the agenda.

The happenings over the course of the year will be documented on the Campaign Hub, www.unite4education.org, which will also pool discussions on social media and internet forums.

The Unite for Quality Education campaign will culminate on and around World Teachers Day 2014.

EI and its member organisations around the world will call for the right to quality public education to be realised for the benefit of every child, youth and adult.

The energy and activities of EI affiliates and of our partner inter-governmental agencies, civil society organisations and private sector organisations will ensure the success of this campaign.

Unite for Quality Education will remind the world about the importance of quality teachers, quality learning and teaching environments, and quality learning and teaching tools for a bright and sustainable future for all societies.