Education International’s David Edwards brought a message of solidarity to NASUWT members at their Annual Conference telling them “tens of thousands of your fellow professionals are seeing their futures through a lens you are providing.”
The General Secretary of EI, which globally represents 32 million teachers in 178 countries through its member organisations, including NASUWT, told the Conference in Glasgow: “Your voices are carrying loud and clear, and your path is an example of where solidarity can take this movement, a roadmap for organisations at a completely different stage of their journey and an inspiration to your brothers and sisters around the world.”
Mr Edwards told members that the “beating heart” of successful education systems had a corps of well-qualified, well-resourced and well-paid teachers. They had to be recognised as vital elements to transform systems and be involved in collaboration between trade unions and governments.
But the resources needed for public services were “scarce and declining”, he warned with funding falling by 65% in low and middle income countries and 33% in upper-middle and high income ones since the start of the pandemic.
He said: “The solution to that shortfall is clear. We need to mobilise ourselves, our colleagues and our communities to connect the crisis in funding to the sustainable world we want to create.”
And he called for the billions in uncollected taxation to be diverted to investment in publicly-funded education, highlighting EIs Go Public! – Fund Education campaign.
The head of EI reminded Conference of the danger faced by teachers and trade unionists around the world: “Autocrats like Putin in Russia, Assad in Syria, the junta in Myanmar have waged brutal, notorious wars on civilian populations, with tens of thousands killed and millions on the move as refugees.
“Last year the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack reported that over a two-year period, more than 9,000 students, teachers and academics were harmed, injured or killed in attacks on education during armed conflict and that there were more than 5,000 separate attacks on education facilities.”
Mr Edwards spoke of how EI was mobilising members around the world to support education professionals in countries recently including Ukraine, Turkey following the devastating earthquakes, Colombia, Afghanistan and Swaziland.
He said: “Whether it is natural disasters or autocratic regimes, the thing that helps our members wake up and go and do the hard work they have to do is the knowledge that they are not alone. NASUWT, you never let our fellow unionists feel alone.”
He added: “Your voices are carrying loud and clear and your path is an example of where solidarity can take this movement, a roadmap for organisations at a completely different stage of their journey and an inspiration to your brothers and sisters around the world.
“You still make a world of difference to our world and I am proud to be with you.”