Asia-Pacific education union leaders reiterated their commitment to quality education for all, working towards countering for-profit education privatisation, increasing teacher professionalism and demanding respect for educators’ human and trade union rights.
Nepalese government’s response to EI’s study on public education in the country
Nepal’s Education Minister Seshnath Adhikari announced at the Education International (EI) 8th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference plans to increase the country’s education spending from 10 to 15 percent of the national budget in 2018.
He also responded to findings of Education International (EI) research on the impoverished state of Nepal’s public school system, findings presented on 11 October in Kathmandu. Despite the rapid growth of Nepal’s population, only two public schools were established in the Kathmandu area in the past 10 years. However, some 100 private schools were opened in that same period, most of them operating on a for-profit basis. The spectacular growth of for-profit schooling is seen as the immediate result of decades of neglect of the countries’ public school system, the conference noted.
It strongly condemned the fact that the Nepalese authorities had fallen short of ensuring the right of all children to quality education, and that children of poor families, girls in particular, had for a very long time been seriously disadvantaged. Moreover, private education was not sufficiently regulated and poorly supervised, which had caused educational and professional standards in Nepal to fall, participants stressed. The Nepalese education unions NNTA, NTA and ISTU said that, in view of upcoming elections, they would increase pressure on the country’s political parties to move public education up on their agendas and increase the education expenditure up to 20 percent of the national budget.
Call for respect for educators’ human and trade union rights
The conference went on to adopt resolutions proposed by member organisations calling for: respect for human and trade union rights in Cambodia; the recognition and legalisation of the KTU, Korea; the rights of indigenous people of South Mindanao, Philippines; the full application of collective bargaining rights and the establishment of programmes to reach the sustainable development goal 4 in Fiji; the protection of the rights of Kurd teachers in Iraq; and unity of the teachers’ organisations in India.
The conference also accepted resolutions rejecting the rapid privatisation and commercialisation of education services in India, Indonesia and Pakistan. Education leaders from Asia-Pacific expressed deep concerns regarding the de-professionalisation of teaching in these countries, where growing numbers of unqualified teaching staff is being hired on a contract basis. The conference adopted a resolution warning for the erosion of the status of teachers in the Pacific.
The conference further addressed the problem of school violence, a phenomenon unfortunately on the rise in a number of Asia-Pacific countries.
Calling for the application of indigenous, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people’s rights in the region, it recommended that EI member organisations fight against criminalisation and discrimination of LGBTI people, teachers and students in particular, and develop union policy and programmes on those issues.
Breakout session on quality teachers
A breakout session on quality teachers for quality education was also organised during the regional conference, as part of a global consultation carried out by EI to develop its very first policy on quality working conditions and quality terms of employment, reflecting on teacher unions’ vision of quality terms and employment and working conditions, and on the issues facing the teaching profession.
The breakout session’s outcomes, depicting the teachers’ reality in the Asia-Pacific region, will inform the policy paper which the EI’s Secretariat will produce and will be adopted by EI’s next World Congress in Bangkok, in 2019.
2017-2021 EI Asia-Pacific Regional Committee
The 8th EI Asia-Pacific Regional Conference also elected the EI Asia-Pacific Regional Committee for 2017-2021:
Mr. Masaki Okajima, JTU/Japan
Ms. Correna Haythrope, AEU/Australia
Mr. Ram Pal Singh, AIPTF/India
Mr. Abdul Wahed Muhammad Haji, KTU/Iraq
Mr. Babu Ram Thapa, NNTA/Nepal
Mr. Harry Tan Hock Huat, NUTP/Malaysia
Mr. Hwang Hyunsu, KTU/Korea
Mr. Philip Junior Ika, SINTA/Solomon Islands
Ms. Angela Wijesinghe, ACUT/Sri Lanka
Ms. Milagros C Ogalinda, SMP-NATOW/Philippines
Ms. Neselinda Neta, VTU/Vanuatu
Ms. Ya Jing Li, NTA/Taiwan
Mr. Agni Deo Singh, FTU/Fiji
Mr. Indrasekhar Mishra, AISTF/India
Mr. P. Ramanathan, MAE/Malaysia
Mr. Raymond Basilio ACT/Philippines
Mr. Mukunda Gautam, ISTU/Nepal
Ms. Unifah Rosyidi, PGRI/Indonesia
On the EI Executive Board, and also on the EI Asia-Pacific Regional Committee:
EI President, Ms. Susan Hopgood, AEU/Australia
Ms. Okju Bak, KTU/Korea