More than 9,000 delegates gathered in New Orleans, USA, from 26 June to 6 July 2010 for the Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly of the National Education Association (NEA), a member of the US Child Labour Coalition which is an associate member of Global March. As part of the pre-Assembly build-up, the NEA International Relations department sponsored its third Global Education Summit on 1 July 2010 under the banner “Diplomacy for a New Generation: Global Education in an Interdependent World”.
Through workshops and panel discussions, approximately 100 participants were exposed to new techniques and strategies to not only help prepare their students for an increasingly complex, interdependent world, but also how to collaborate and unite in the face of daunting global challenges.
NEA Executive Director John Wilson welcomed the group and facilitated the morning discussions, including one led by Dr Anthony Jackson of the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning. Participants then broke out into workshops facilitated by key NEA partners, including Peace Corps, Coverdell World Wise Schools, the Global Campaign for Education, iEARN-USA and the Magna Carta project, as well as a panel of teachers who participated in the Magna Carta Human Rights Education Project.
The afternoon session focused on how teacher unions can work together in tackling the issues educators around the world confront, including privatisation and testing. NEA Vice-President Lily Eskelsen spoke about the importance of gender equality in education, the campaign to meet the Education For All goals and in union leadership. She also introduced a new video, “Acting Locally – Connecting Globally: On the Move for Gender Equality”, produced jointly by the NEA with Education International’s Communicators’ Network and affiliates in the Caribbean. Education International (EI) is a member of Global March and has a seat on the Governing Board.
For the international guests attending the NEA Assembly, including representatives from teacher organisations from in Australia, Chile, Senegal, South Africa and the UK, the summit was a valuable opportunity to begin discussions with their US counterparts about the many issues that unite them.
“It’s amazing when you realise that we are all dealing with the same bad policies,” said Angelo Gavrielatos, President of Australia Education Union (AEU). “But we have to work together – there should be no borders when it comes to a child’s education.” Gavrielatos also closed the summit with a brief presentation about AEU’s development aid cooperation programme to help education across the globe. Under the programme, AEU contributes 0.7 per cent of members’ dues to international projects. Although some of the organisation’s members objected to the programme, Gavrielatos explained that he counters these objections by saying: “What I tell them is that no matter where that child lives – anywhere in the world – that child is a teacher’s business.”
Global March Chairperson, Kailash Satyarthi, echoed the sentiments of the AEU President, noting that the same thought process should be applied to child labour. “Wherever a child labourer is toiling in the world, that child is the concern and business of Global March and its members worldwide and should be the concern of all of us. What this wonderful example of global solidarity portrayed at the NEA Assembly shows us is the potential power of our combined determination to make education a reality for all children and to avoid situations in which any child has to work rather than enjoying their fundamental rights to go to school and enjoy a fulfilled, happy and meaningful childhood. Teachers’ organisations are leading the way in the fight against child exploitation and the achievement of education for all and we draw inspiration and strength from their combined efforts.”