24 December 2016

Regional Consultation on UNESCO Education 2030 Agenda

Ambassador Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
15-17 December 2016
Organised by Education International Asia Pacific
Malaysia represented by
Malaysian Academics Movement (MOVE)
Malaysian Association for Education (MAE)
National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP)
Sarawak Teachers Association (STA)

09 December 2016

International Human Rights Day: 10 December 2016

Education Internatonal
Education International
Internationale de l'Éducation
Internacional de la Educación

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Education, Human Rights and Dignity 
By Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary, Education International 

10 December is International Human Rights Day. It is an occasion to celebrate human rights as recognised by the instruments of the UN and its agencies that enshrine those rights in international law and culture.  

The UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognises the right to education. However, it sees education as being a lot more than training in skills as important as that may be. Its purpose is also to inform our societies and re-enforce the capacities of people to reflect, engage in critical thinking and adjust. The mission of education, according to the Covenant is the: 

“Development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity.” Education “shall strengthen the respect for hum an rights and fundamental freedoms” . It goes on to say that “ education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups …” 

This Covenant was adopted 50 years ago, but it sounds as if it could have been written yesterday. However, we are seeing eruptions of fear, hostility and of all kinds of bigotry, much of it directed at migrants, disadvantaged and refugee communities. It is made worse by those politicians who calculate that there is more electoral benefit to be generated through fear than through fairness and responsibility. I ask a simple, if undiplomatic question. Is the refugee “crisis” being instrumentalised to erode and undermine democratic values and democracy itself in the world? It is in that context that we need to reread the Covenant today and reflect on the mission of education. 

Education International recently held a conference to discuss education for refugees. It was a fascinating meeting that brought together teachers, education stakeholders, political leaders, and academic experts. The main focus was on how education systems can better serve refugees and support their “integration”.  

Let us be modest: education on its own cannot confront all challenges, but they will not be met without it. Countering dark forces requires a political response and teachers and their trade unions must be part of that necessary mobilization, but we also have a role to play as educators.  

But, that requires a philosophy of education that considers the whole child, one that includes critical thinking and discussion on global citizenship, social justice and human rights. It will be ignored, at best, by those who think that nothing has value that cannot be measured. And, it will not even be in the same universe with those who see education as a profit centre rather than as a vital mission for society. Good education is, in fact, part of the glue that holds society together. And, without it, particularly in the fastmoving world of today, we will be scattered in all directions by powerful and destructive centrifugal forces. 

But, sound education, including civic education, is not only the right thing to do because of our concerns about larger society or even because of the values we serve. It is also good education and provides value to home and host populations. As John Dewey, the American educator and philosopher said early in the last century. 

“The intermingling in the school of youth of different races, differing religions, and unlike customs creates for all a new and broader environment.”

08 December 2016

THE: Global coalition sets out how to keep universities safe from harm

The prime responsibility, it asserts, lies with states to “abstain from direct or complicit involvement in attacks on higher education”, for example by “avoid[ing] ideological or partisan uses of higher education facilities which might foster a perception of the university as a politicized agent”.
They must try and protect institutions from attack by “safeguarding the civilian character of universities” and by “limit[ing] the use of higher education facilities for military purposes, so as to avoid converting universities into military objectives and exposing them to attack by other parties to conflict”.
Where attacks do occur, the report goes on, states must obviously provide “physical assistance to victims”, but also the kind of “psychosocial programs” that can play “a key role in encouraging academic staff to continue their research and teaching, and in preventing drop-out and low levels of attendance among university students”.
Furthermore, through “responsible, timely, and thorough investigation of attacks”, they can “send a positive message to the higher education sector and the public about the importance of higher education. Investigations and appropriate prosecution and sentencing of perpetrators after fair and impartial proceedings demonstrate that such acts will not be tolerated, which can help to deter future attacks”.  


Guide to Implementing the Principles of State Responsibility to
Protect Higher Education from Attack

06 December 2016

GUARDIAN: Academics! You've got to fight for your right to job security

The destruction of job security is central to the long-term transformation of the sector. Universities are encouraged – with the enthusiastic co-operation of their vice-chancellors – to think of themselves as businesses. This means running increasing surpluses, recruiting more students in popular courses and cutting whole departments where numbers are lower.