Educators and unions taking the lead

PPTA president Jack Boyle and general secretary Michael Stevenson report back from the 8th Education International World Congress in Bangkok.

PPTA president Jack Boyle and general secretary Michael Stevenson joined their NZEI and TEU counterparts and 2500 delegates from 179 countries at the Education International 8th World Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.

Education International is the global peak body for education unions, holding a world congress every four years to bring educators together for networking, information sharing and policy setting.

Educators and their unions taking the lead

The theme for 2019 was ‘Educators and their unions taking the lead’. “A very relevant title for PPTA as we begin our accord journey, working on policy to benefit our members alongside partners NZEI and the Ministry of Education,” Michael said. “And of course, there is the $5 million annual PLD fund where we can, once again, show leadership following decades of failure in this space from private providers and edu-preneurs.”

President Jack Boyle spoke to delegates on Education International developing a central depository of resources for disaster response and preparedness. Sadly, a relevant topic for New Zealand, where PPTA members are often the first responders when natural disasters or terrorism occurs.

Education leaders falling victim to political attack

A very frightening part of congress was hearing in person about the education leaders who fall victim to political attack in their own countries, Michael said.

Examples include former Brazilian president and union leader Lulu who is in prison on false corruption charges and Bahrani Teachers’ Union president Jalilia Al-Salam who runs the union from exile in Switzerland after being jailed and tortured for organising protests during the Arab Spring.

Michael Stevenson re-elected Asia-Pacific representative 

Michael was re-elected as Asia-Pacific representative on the Commonwealth Teachers’ Group (CTG), a tough task given the large Australian contingent
at the congress.

“You may think the existence of a Commonwealth group is outdated in 2019, but this is not the case. Politicians meet under the banner of the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) regularly and it is important for education unions to organise and influence in this space to prevent toxic policies, such as academies and charter schools, gaining momentum. It’s also important to ensure the CTG pushes back against residual colonialism - on this front we will be moving the secretariat from the United Kingdom to Kenya,” he said.

Michael attended a special forum titled ‘Union renewal’. “Attending the workshop was heartening, as PPTA is ahead of many EI affiliates who are still finding their feet in terms of meeting the needs of new and establishing teachers, member education, and the interface between social media and campaigning,” he said.

A full summary of the congress can be found on the Education International website (

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 September 2019 09:55