Unite for quality education worldwide
Today is the culmination of a year-long campaign which has brought the messages of millions of teachers from across the world all the way to the UN General Assembly.
Teachers from all the continents of the world, representing tens of millions of their peers, are in New York to celebrate the culmination of the year long campaign to Unite for Quality Education. They will be joined by UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon, who has endorsed the campaign and signalled the commitment by the United Nations to education as a global priority beyond 2015.
Unite for Quality Education has been spearheaded by Education International (EI), which represents 30 million teachers and educators in more than 170 countries. It is possibly one of EI’s most successful campaigns to date and one which was simply too important to fail. And, it has exceeded expectations.
In the midst of vital discussions and action planning on crises including Ebola, ISIS, climate change, world leaders will also be making vital commitments on education, as we continue international efforts to ensure that no child on the planet is denied their human right to education.
But, for teachers and their unions, we must also ensure that all children are guaranteed access to quality education. And, we must do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
The EI initiative for quality education has raised the debate about the importance of public education which ensures that children and young people have access to quality teachers, quality tools and resources in their classrooms and quality learning environments that are safe and secure. These are the building blocks for quality education and the means to equipping children and young people everywhere with the best start in life and with an education that prepares them with the knowledge, skills and resilience they need for the future.
Over the past 12 months, we have also witnessed assaults on our fundamental ideals as educators. The abduction by boko Haram of over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria is perhaps the most high profile example of this. We will continue our call to Bring Back Our Girls. But, let us not forget the courage of their teachers. In the face of intimidation and violence, teachers continue to dare to teach and to stand up for the rights of children. Over 170 teachers in Nigeria have been killed by boko Haram in Nigeria since 2009.
Our global campaign for quality education – a campaign to ensure access to education in the face of oppressive and violent practices – is simply too important. It will mean that the courage and commitment of teachers everywhere who defend children’s right to quality education and who are working for a better, a fairer and more just world will triumph.
This is the nature of what teachers do every day. In the UK and around the world, teachers are united in a common endeavour. Whilst quality education may be under threat of marketization and privatisation, sectarian ideologies, violence and poverty, teachers’ commitment to children’s learning endures.
The moral compass of teachers may explain why, even in the most difficult and challenging circumstances, teachers continue to stand up for their students; but, it is also their professionalism. 30 million teachers and educators within the global family of Education International are demonstrating and will continue to demonstrate that commitment.
As a founding member of Education International, the NASUWT has been a leading national and international campaigner for quality education. In the UK, the NASUWT is championing quality education through its Standing up for Standards campaign and as participant in the Unite for Quality Education initiative. The union has also made the case for quality education and, in its report on Maintaining World Class Schools has challenged all political parties to prioritise quality education for children and young people.
In a world where 58 million children have no access to education, 250 million children lack basic learning skills and life chances are impacted by marketization, privatisation and globalisation, education is perhaps the single most important national and international priority and whilst it must remain so, we must work together, across all sectors and all countries, to ensure that the commitments being made by world leaders today are delivered for future generations.