Teachers’ voice is heard at Global Education Industry Summit


Supported by a strong delegation, Education International joined more than a hundred representatives from government, industry and the OECD for the third Global Education Industry Summit in Luxembourg.

Representing unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Education international and its affiliates, Germany’s GEW, the Danish teacher unions and the OECD's Trade Union Advisory Committee were in Luxembourg for the Summit, which took place from 25-26 September. The companies represented were mostly start-ups and small to medium scale firms, such as LearnCapital. Big corporate players like Apple, Microsoft, ETS and Pearsons were notable by their absence during the two-day event.

Although there was much discussion about not being able to predict the technological future and criticisms that schools and educators had to be much more flexible, a number of encouraging features emerged.

OECD's Andreas Schleicher stated that teachers in control of innovation were a much greater incentive for improvement than performance-related pay.

Rob Weil, EI's AFT representative, in a powerful speech, stated that role of teachers is not confined to classrooms and that they played vital roles whenever and wherever the need arose. He described how schools and teachers were at the centre of the reconstruction of their communities when hurricanes hit towns in the US.

To highlight the necessity of teachers beyond the classroom, Rob Weil, EI's AFT representative, made a powerful speech highlighting the effects of the hurricanes on towns in the US and how schools and teachers were at the centre of the reconstruction of their communities.

The firms represented mostly argued that they needed dialogue on pedagogy and what teachers needed in terms of IT support. The Trade Union delegation made a number of interventions. Special Consultant John Bangs from EI reminded the Summit that it was only teachers who could determine what kind of IT assistance they required and what they also needed was time and space to collaborate on sharing knowledge and expertise.

Despite some minority hostility to teacher unions, the majority of the Summit was receptive to EI's arguments. However, the major absence of the global tech companies and big education industry places a question mark over the future of the GEIS. After all, it is those companies that seek to dominate the public sector and seek to profit from public funding. Estonia will host the 2018 Summit with some suggesting that it may be the last.