On the third day of Congress, delegates moved to debate resolutions and engage in discussions tied to the theme of “Advancing the Profession”.
The resolutions adopted on Day 3 of Congress covered the EI and UNESCO global framework of professional teaching standards, the future of the teaching profession, teachers’ mental health, academic freedom in higher education and education support personnel.
The four breakout session streams that allow for deeper discussions among delegates continued, with a focus on educators’ professionalism and how to develop it.
Living our values – autonomous professionals
The session focused on how education unions can take the lead for quality education within their communities through social dialogue and collective bargaining. In the face of challenges such as the privatisation of education, performance-based pay and precarious working conditions for educators, teacher autonomy can make the difference, especially when it comes to countering authoritarian interference from governments. Speakers included higher education leaders from Canada, Malaysia, Hungary, Brazil and Ghana.
Making it happen – professional standards
Participants at this parallel discussion examined the role of professional teaching standards and how they help enhance the influence of unions. Speakers were education leaders from Scotland, Portugal, Uganda and the USA.
Taking the lead – defending the profession
Union leaders from France, Argentina, Senegal and Japan brought their perspectives on the best advocacy and engagement strategies to defend the teaching profession in the global arena. Participants also generated further ideas for campaign and communication initiatives.
Union renewal – policy dialogue
Union renewal remained a key theme for Congress, with discussions about gathering facts, data and research. The delegates’ aim was also to identify new roles for unions in societies, to take the lead in policy dialogue and education policies. The featured speaker came from the Ghana National Association of Teachers.
“The future starts in the classroom with our teachers”
Picking up on the day’s theme “Advancing the Profession”, in his keynote address to plenary UNESCO’s Dr. Jordan Naidoo stressed the importance of having qualified teachers for attaining the Sustainable Development Goal 4 that seeks inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.
However, recent key findings are not encouraging, and indicate the “world is not on track to deliver this goal”, according to Naidoo – Director, Education 2030 Support and Coordination at UNESCO.
“On current trends, 220 million children and youth will still be excluded from school in 2030 and one in three young people will not complete secondary education. Despite progress, many countries are still far from achieving gender parity… This is an education crisis created by the lack of political commitment and attention to address inequality and questionable quality,” stated Naidoo before the 1,400 delegates from around the world.
He further pointed out that, to different degrees, “the education system is failing to deal adequately with the challenge of inequality and the 2030 Agenda’s commitment to leave no one behind… Inequality related to social disadvantage, gender, disability, migration or geographical isolation.”
He argued for better policies, data and financing to respond to the dual challenge of equity and quality because “education is a right’.
Among the myriad of recommended actions, Naidoo urges for measures to attract good candidates to teaching through competitive pay structures and incentives and raising the status of teachers, equitable deployment policies, and building appropriate professional development and support structures.
Naidoo firmly believes that to advance teaching as a profession, “it will require all of us – educators and their unions, governments, civil society and other stakeholders – to coalesce around action. Such a coalition is more important today than ever before, in an environment that promotes standardisation at the expense of quality and equality, and one in which many believe teachers do work that anyone can do, they can be replaced by technology, and that we need to “teacher-proof” schools as demonstrated in the expanding privatisation of schooling.”
He also underscored that sufficient investment in education is required to bridge the financing gap and ensure there are necessary resources for long-term and recurrent education expenditure for salaries and incentives, as well non-salary expenses.
“If we want the future dreamed of by world leaders and young and old in every part our world, then we need to start in the classroom. We need to start with students, and we need to start with their teachers.”
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