-Jobben vår er ganske enkel. Vi skal forandre verden!

David Edwards, generalsekretær i Education International, fortalte statsminister Erna Solberg hvor heldig hun er som har Utdanningsforbundet. Foto:Tom Egil Jensen

I sin hilsningstale til Utdanningsforbundets Landsmøte la David Edwards, generalsekretær i Education International, blant annet vekt på at verden trenger Norge for en kontinuerlig støtte til lærere og deres fagforeninger, både hjemme og ute.

- Jeg ble rørt av å høre statsminister Erna Solberg anerkjenne viktigheten av Utdanningsforbundets arbeid internasjonalt, og ikke minste hennes forpliktelse til et videre samarbeid om dette, sa Edwards.

Han berømmet statsministeren for sitt fokus på lærerens sentrale rolle og hadde fortalt henne hvor heldig hun er som har en respektert EI-medlemsorganisasjon (Utdanningsforbundet) med kontakter til lærere over hele verden. Ifølge Edwards er dette spesielt viktig i en tid der både lærerfagforeninger og lærernes profesjonsstatus er under konstant angrep.

- Vi kan ikke ta opp det som skjer med planeten vår, brudd på menneskerettigheter og demokrati, angrep på yrket vårt og lærerprofesjonen eller kreve gratis offentlig kvalitetsutdanning for alle, med mindre vi passer på hverandre, øker vår styrke i fagforeningene, i våre lokalsamfunn og nasjoner, poengterte Edwards før han avsluttet:

- Vi kan få den fremtiden vi forestiller oss. I fagbevegelsen har vi et ord for det.

- Organiser!

- Organiser!

- Organiser!

Les hele hilsningstalen til David Edwards nedenfor.

David Edwards, Education International - Remarks

Remarks of David Edwards
General Secretary, Education International
Congress of Utdanningsforbundet Norway – November 6th 2019

Thanks very much for that introduction. It's an honor to be here with you and an honor to have the energy, intellect and commitment of Utdanningsforbundet in Education International.

One of the great benefits I have as General Secretary of EI is to have the advice and counsel of your newly re-elected president Steffen Handal as a fellow member of the EI Executive Board. Takk skal du ha Steffen. I also have the benefit of a former vice president as deputy.

The world also needs its greatest single education champion, Norway to continue to be consistent in supporting teachers and their unions, both at home and around the world. I was heartened to hear your Prime Minister recognize the importance of your international work and commit to collaborating more with you. I mentioned to her that she was right about the central importance of teachers and how fortunate she was to have a respected EI member organization with deep connections to teachers the world over.

When I was elected to this office this summer, EI had just finished marking the 25th anniversary of our founding. Amid the celebrating, we took note of the tremendously hard work that was required to bring the world's two major education trade union organizations together to form Education International, the International Federation of Free Teachers' Unions and the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession.

These federations and their unions had major differences in terms of style and political engagement and ideological alignment. Over time, they began to see that their differences as insignificant compared to their shared purpose. They began to understand that the influence each had on public policy could become pivotal if they worked in combined strength. And just as important, they believed that a global federation of organizations could make each organization stronger by dialogue, by learning and example and shared struggle. By the way, here in Norway Utdanningsforbundet stands as an example of trade union unity as well as an international reminder of what we hold in common is greater than that which separates us.

Our shared belief in the power of unity and a quarter century of experience has given EI a unique and even historic position here in our own time of great challenge and great peril.

We've experienced a rising tide of nativism, unprecedented income inequality, an unchecked corporate sector and seemingly unstoppable environmental degradation.

We've seen the increasing individualization and even atomization of society, environments that have become less human and more mechanical.

We see it in our nations and in our communities. And it's apparent in too many of our classrooms. Have you seen the reports on young Chinese children wearing EKG monitors to gauge their attention and report daydreaming to their parents via an app? Or how about the evidence that an increase in the use of smartphones tracks with an increase in student depression and mental health issues?

Datafication and even the weaponization of information creates the conditions for education to be considered a commodity – not a public good and human right and government responsibility, but a source of transactions. For these irresponsible governments and their cheerleaders and benefactors, the ever-present privatizers it is – to use a phrase that is very popular in my home country right now – a quid pro quo.

It's very simple. Once we allow them to redefine quality education to a set of measurable numeracy and literacy outcomes absent every universally accepted element including highly-qualified teachers – then they have created a market and the market can set a price.

It's especially rampant in our sector. If those in charge of education policy and practice decide that a shortage of teachers can be met by placing more adults in classrooms, then that becomes the goal. Not trained teachers or quality teaching, but just adults, maybe with threshold qualifications, an education level, a background check. It's not a surprise to us, then, that the price set for this goal is lowering of teaching standards, and inadequate and precarious work rules.

And colleagues – as you made clear in your campaigning here before the local elections in September, there is no single factor more important to students' success than the work of qualified teachers. And it does no good for students or society if these qualified teachers are ready and able to work yet unqualified personnel are hired instead.

That simply makes no sense unless your only consideration is the short-term cost. But the market approach is exactly that – short-term. And society is being told to focus no further than the market's definition of success – an immediate celebration of winners and losers, as if it were sport.

None of this happened overnight. Equity and fairness isn't always taken, rights aren't seized, they are ceded to governments and markets because they appear to be somehow irrelevant; the price we pay for the 4th industrial revolution; the inevitable result as we give way to some self-interested, platform version of the future of work.

But who should be the people in charge of education policy? Who has the deciding influence over the methods and means and even the very definition of quality education?

Let me give you some hints.

There is a group of people who work at the center of communities; a group that transmits the shared values and common identities of communities and stand against the haters who come to twist those identities into instruments of exclusion and division.

This group stands for truth and takes collective action in the face of disinformation, educating, informing and activating citizens to identify the distortion of public debate by forces of intolerance and the courage to resist the delivery systems for their messages.

Do we need some more hints?

This is a group organized around principles that education serves the values of the society as well as cultural, democratic, social, economic and environmental needs, enabling people at all stages in their lives to achieve their maximum potential.

There is a group with a respected role in our communities, entrusted with the preparation of future generations, part of a global, regional and nationally organized movement committed to respect for humanity and the need for dignity and democracy.

Wow! Who are these people?
Yes, it's us

We are in every community. We are widely respected. And, we work every day, with the future - young people. And we are nice people, good people, right? Sure we are, but we have power and influence because of our unique ability through our unions to determine the future.

With the help of a very strong Norwegian delegation, EI's World Congress this year set our sights very high, vowing to focus on three main priorities:

To continue the fight for free, inclusive quality education for every student, our core commitment.

To use our collective voice to change the global narrative to improve the status, terms and image of our profession as educators.

And to put ourselves and our unions at the forefront of movements that fight for democratic values and defend human and trade union rights on behalf of our students, our members and the communities we serve.

When we take the lead to seek equitable and sustainable long-term funding of public education, our students, even the most disadvantaged, can have adequate resources and services as well as good, supportive environments for teaching and learning. When we take the lead to inform our debates with pertinent and illuminating research our societies and students benefit and are better protected against the harmful fads pushed by the global education reform movement.

I spoke a moment ago about our history and that a global federation of organizations could make each organization stronger by example. I want to congratulate you on one very impressive example that was hard fought and just recently won, the improvements Utdanningsforbundet won for student/teacher ratio in primary and lower secondary school and the child/teacher ratio in Early Childhood Education.

Thank you Utanningsforbundet for your leadership.

I also want to thank you for helping to create that amazing documentary about Norwegian teachers refusing to teach the Nazi curriculum and what they suffered for their principles. Those of you who were at our World Congress know that I spoke about that film and handed out paperclips to delegates because we still need to hold together.

Colleagues, it's an uncertain and complicated moment in the world. Our very existence as organizations and our status as professionals is under constant attack across the world.

We make some people very angry, especially those who benefit from inequality, fear, falsehoods, ignorance and misogyny. Too many of those people are in power and running governments. And so, our job is simple – we want to change the world.

But imagining the future is only a start.
We cannot address the assault on our planet, the assault on human rights and democracy, the assault on quality free public education and the assault on our profession unless we look after each other, build our base and grow our strength in our unions and in our communities and nations.

To get there, we need to think in the here and now, to gather our forces in common purpose, to leverage our knowledge of systems, to assert our strength not just with the decisionmakers, but as decisionmakers.

In the union movement, we have a word for that. The word is organize.
We can have the future we imagine; we can take our places as leaders of the movement for sustainable development only if we follow the time-honored three-step process for success that we all know so well.

You know those three steps.
Step ONE – Organisere
Step TWO – Organisere!
And Step THREE –
I can't hear you! –

Say it with me! – Organisere!

Thank you colleagues.

Education International (EI)

Den globale stemmen

Sommeren 2019 ble leder av Utdanningsforbundet, Steffen Handel, gjenvalgt til styret i Education International for en ny fire-års periode. I tillegg er tidligere nestleder i Utdanningsforbundet, Haldis Holst, vise-generalsekretær i EI.

Education International (EI) er lærernes verdensorganisasjon med rundt 400 medlemsorganisasjoner fra over hele verden som representerer over 30 millioner lærere.

Education International representerer profesjonens stemme globalt. Organisasjonen holder kongress hvert fjerde år, der politikk blir vedtatt og valg avholdt.

EI har utviklet to grunnlagsdokumenter som beskriver organisasjonens politiske plattform:
• Å bygge framtiden gjennom utdanning av høy kvalitet
• Politisk dokument om menneske- og fagforeningsrettigheter

I tillegg har EI utarbeidet en Code of Ethics.
Dette er grunnlagsdokumenter som lærere i hele verden stiller seg bak, og som de har vært med å utarbeide gjennom sine nasjonale organisasjoner.

Les mer om EI her.