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Shaping the Teaching Profession of the 21st Century

NAR supports the following resolution, adopted by the ETUCE Special Conference in Vienna on 26-27 November 2014:

A. ETUCE acknowledges that:

1. Education – a human right and a public good

Education is a human right and a public good. Innovative and high quality education for all is essential for social cohesion and democratic citizenship in a modern world and is grounded in a highly-valued teaching profession;

2. Impact of the economic and financial crisis

The teaching profession in many European countries suffers from a lack of attractiveness and its status has been reduced during the years of the economic and financial crisis. These developments, and the related problem of shortages of qualified teachers, have far-reaching impacts on the quality of education and training. Cuts in education budgets in many countries in Europe have seriously undermined the salaries, working conditions, and job security of teaching professionals and, therefore, jeopardised the attractiveness and the future of the profession, as well as the democratic and sustainable development of high-quality education services;

3. Quality in education – campaign

Teacher unions in Europe are stepping up measures and actions to campaign for high-quality education. The European Union and the Council of Europe, taking into consideration the negative effects of the economic recession on the teaching profession, are also focussing increasingly on improving the quality of teaching, developing higher quality teacher education and raising standards in teaching.

4. Importance of social dialogue in education

It is essential that governments recognise teacher trade unions and education employers as equal partners in the development of education systems, who provide an independent professional view and are committed to the common goal of achieving successful education systems in the future.

5. ICT in education

Information and communication technologies (ICT) provide new possibilities to enrich and enhance the quality of education. Teacher unions can help to create the political vision and raise the expectations of using ICT effectively in schools, colleges and universities by ensuring that such use corresponds to the learning requirements of students at different levels of study and in different subject areas1;

6. Public-private partnership and privatisation of education

The increasing privatisation of potentially profitable education services advocated by free enterprise interests jeopardizes public provision of education2. Exploiting for corporate profit potentially beneficial changes in education practice through the pedagogic use of ICT in professional development, teacher education, teaching material development and new curricular or testing instruments, is often the top priority of many of the private corporations active in education, with the collaboration of many education employers. This reflects their limited vision of the purposes of education.

7. Equal opportunities

In some countries in Europe women teachers work mostly with the youngest students and receive lower salaries than those, mostly men, working with older students, while, according to European Union legislation women teachers should receive equal pay for equal work of equal value. Collective bargaining and collective agreements are important tools in ensuring equal pay for all education staff3, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or faith, ethnicity, or disability. It is critical that discriminatory pay systems and practices are eliminated and also to trigger a change in students' future career choices by providing teachers and teacher unions with the know-how and tools for promoting a gender sensitive approach in education. Moreover, mainstreaming diversity and tackling inequalities in education in respect of teaching competences for addressing diversity issues, the inclusion of migrants and special needs education must be sufficiently addressed in initial teacher training.

B. ETUCE calls on the European institutions, governments and education authorities in Europe:

1.
To maintain and increase the level of public investment in education at all levels, in order to ensure that, in future, high quality education is sustainable and available for all as a human right and a public good;

2.
To acknowledge that public education is the key element in any democratic society. Providing good quality public schools, free of charge and open to all, contributes to social cohesion and equity, which evidently are important factors for quality education. Providing education services for corporate profit undermines education as a public good.

3.
To improve the quality of teaching by developing high quality and innovative teacher education and by raising standards of teaching, especially through further integrating the pedagogic use of ICT by increasing the numbers of teachers skilled and experienced in the area, and also by involving teachers in research studies on the quality of teaching. New technologies should be used as supplements to, and not replacements for, in-class instruction. Programmes directed at introducing the pedagogic use of ICT must be: a) inclusive, b) aimed at improving access and quality of education, c) not harm teachers' working conditions, d) have a teachers' professional development component, and e) respect national curricula;

4.
To ensure that all teachers receive equal pay for work of equal value, receive rewarding salaries and pension schemes, and appropriate, healthy and safe working conditions, equivalent to standards in other professions requiring a similar level of qualifications; governments in Europe should take into account the positive impact of collective bargaining and collective agreements in order to ensure the labour partners' mutual responsibility for the working conditions and to ensure equality as well as quality.

5.
To consider teacher trade unions as equal partners in relation to future developments affecting the education sector and provide them with a permanent and central role in national and European decision-making on developing education policies, within the social dialogue at national and European level;

6.
To protect and support academic freedom for teachers including the provision for professional input into the definition of national curricular frameworks at all levels of education and professional discretion in the implementation of such frameworks at classroom level; this is crucial to address, especially, the growing concern about the de-professionalisation of the teaching profession, and the increasing negative influence of commercial companies dictating curricula, especially through open online courses and ICT and other internet applications in education;

7.
To ensure that in engaging in innovative changes, reasonable balance is maintained between such goals of education as learning active citizenship in democracy, developing critical thinking skills and preparing for work. In this context, multi-stakeholder partnerships in education (MSPE) could provide a solution to the growing involvement of corporations in public education under arrangements that are non-contractual and non-commercial; special attention needs to be paid to the increasing number of free trade agreements that have the potential to restrict public policy space and, ultimately, to intensify the pressure for privatisation and commercialisation on public education

8.
To develop policies to encourage a supportive environment at institutional level for democratic school and university leadership;

9.
To involve teachers and teacher trade unions in setting up evaluation schemes for teachers which identify teachers' strengths and development needs and are not designed to be punitive;

10.
To ensure that all teachers are trained and have access to integrated, free, high quality Masters level initial education, and induction and continuous professional development. The process of teaching and learning can only succeed when education staff are well-educated, well-treated and respected, and have a stable relationship with the education institution in which they are employed.

The Special Conference calls on ETUCE and its member organisations to:

1. Encourage and support the European institutions, governments and education authorities in Europe to work towards the achievement of the above mentioned goals;

2. Take initiatives and/or actions on the future of the teaching profession with the aim of shaping an ambitious view of the teaching profession of the 21st century as a highly-respected, highly-educated body, deserving of good terms and conditions of employment, amongst teacher unions, other education stakeholders and the wider public;

3. Seek co-operation and joint action with other education stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level to shape the teaching profession of the 21st century, according to the needs of education staff.

4. Participate actively in policy debates and policy formation on the privatisation of education. Monitoring and analysing privatisation initiatives and trends at national, European and global level are important tasks, which the member organisations are encouraged to undertake at national level;

5. Defend actively and develop Social Dialogue, collective bargaining and collective agreements on salaries and working conditions, where possible.

The Special Conference also decides to create an ETUCE taskforce to develop an ETUCE Policy on the 21st Century Teaching Profession and the Use of Information and Communication Technologies, to be presented to the ETUCE Conference in 2016.

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