Education International

Education International

Full name Education International
Members 30 million in 172 countries and territories (2009)[1]
Key people Susan Hopgood, President;[2] Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary.
Office location Brussels, Belgium
Country International
Website .org.ei-iewww

Education International (EI-IE) is a university. This makes it the world's largest sectoral global union federation.


  • History 1
  • Structure 2
  • Principal aims 3
  • Campaigns 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Prior to the 1950s, teacher and other education unions played little role in international trade union federations. In 1912, the World War II.[3]

A significant reorganization of the international trade union movement occurred in the wake of the second world war. The American Federation of Labor (AFL), felt that trade unions from Communist countries were government-dominated. Their inclusion, it was feared, would lead to domination of the WFTU by the Soviet Union. In 1949, the AFL and other trade unions formed the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), an international organization which rejected communist or communist-led trade unions.

International education trade centers also underwent a reorganization. The WFEA broadened its membership and was renamed the American Federation of Teachers) pushed the ICFTU to form its own international secretariat to compete with the much more liberal WCOTP. The conservative and determinedly anti-communist International Federation of Free Teachers' Unions (IFFTU) was created the same year as the WCOTP. FISE, meanwhile, affiliated with the WFTU.[3][4][5]

The IFFTU remained the much smaller organization until the mid-1970s. Although both the WCOTP and IFFTU gained members through the next 25 years, by 1976 the IFFTU represented unions with only 2.3 million members while the WCOTP represented unions with more than 20 million members.[6] The WCOTP worked closely with the UNESCO and the ILO to study the problems of teachers throughout the world, and focused much of its attention on Africa and Asia. For the first 15 years of its existence, the WCOTP worked heavily on a draft UNESCO instrument which would create a consensus on the status, salaries, and protections teachers should have. The final document, "Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers," was adopted by UNESCO on October 5, 1966.[3]

The IFFTU and WCOTP remained strong rivals, each organization's policies and actions often reflecting the rivalry between the NEA and AFT (which were their respective secretariat's largest members). But the surge in growth in AFT membership in the 1960s and 1970s significantly improved the membership figures of the IFFTU. A turn away from radical political views by a number of European, African and Asian education unions led a number of national organizations to disaffiliate from the WCOTP and join the IFFTU.[3][4][5][7]

On January 26, 1993, the WCOTP and IFFTU merged at a convention in Albert Shanker. The collapse of Soviet bloc communist also helped to remove lingering political differences between the two groups (as well as the reason for the IFFTU's existence). Merger was first proposed in 1985, talks became serious in 1988, and merger achieved five years later. Shanker was elected EI's founding president.[8][9]


Education International is a democratic organization which is governed by a World Congress. Any national organization composed predominantly of teachers and/or education employees may belong.[10] Each member is entitled to at least one delegate (up to a maximum of 50 delegates) for every 10,000 members or fraction thereof. Voting rights are more expansive than delegates, however. Each member with up to 5,000 members receives one vote, but organizations with more than 5,000 members receive an additional vote for every 5,000 members. There is no cap on the number of votes a member organization may cast. For large organizations (such as those in the United States, Canada and Europe), this means each delegate may cast tens or even hundreds of votes.[11] A World Congress composed of delegates meets every three years,[12] at a place set by the Executive Board.[13] The World Congress elects the President, Vice Presidents, General Secretary and members of the Executive Board; determines the policies and program of the organization; and adopts the budget and sets membership fees.[14]

An Executive Board governs the organization between meetings of the World Congress. In addition to the President and five Vice-Presidents, the Executive Board has two additional Board members elected from each region, nine at-large members, and the General Secretary. At least one member from each region must be a woman.[15] The term of office for a Board member is three years (the time between World Congresses), and members are limited to two consecutive terms.[16] The Board meets at least once a year.[17]

There are seven officers of EI. The President is the primary officer and spokesperson for the organization. The General Secretary is the primary executive officer, and has day-to-day oversight of EI. The EI constitution establishes five geographical regions,[18] and each region is represented by a Vice-President. At least three of the six non-executive offices (e.g., President and Vice-Presidents) must be women.[15] The officers and General Secretary must meet at least once a year, between Executive Board meetings.[17]

EI's daily operations are overseen by a Secretariat. The Secretariat is run by a Deputy General Secretary appointed by the Executive Board in consultation with the General Secretary.[19] The EI Secretariat is located in Brussels, Belgium. The regional offices are located in the following:

The EI constitution also establishes largely autonomous regional structures to carry out work appropriate for each geographic region. Each regional body adopts its own constitution and by-laws (although these must be in accordance with the EI constitution), holds its own congresses and meetings, establishes dues and budgets, and carries out programs.[20]

EI is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation and enjoys formal associate relations with UNESCO, including the International Bureau of Education (IBE), and has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).[9]

Principal aims

Education International’s principal aims are:

  • to further the cause of organizations of teachers and education employees;
  • to promote peace, democracy, social justice and equality through the development of education and the collective strength of teachers and education employees;
  • to seek and maintain recognition of the trade union rights of workers in general and of teachers and education employees in particular;
  • to enhance the conditions of work and terms of employment of teachers and education employees, and to promote their professional status in general, through support for member organizations;
  • to support and promote the professional freedoms of teachers and education employees and the right of their organizations to participate in the formulation and implementation of educational policies;
  • to promote the right to education for all persons in the world, without discrimination through pursue the establishment and protection of open, publicly funded and controlled educational systems, and academic and cultural institutions, aimed at the democratic, social, cultural and economic development of society and the preparation of every citizen for active and responsible participation in society;
  • to promote the political, social and economic conditions that are required for the realisation of the right to education in all nations;
  • to foster a concept of education directed towards international understanding and good will, the safeguarding of peace and freedom, and respect for human dignity;
  • to combat all forms of racism and of bias or discrimination in education and society due to gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, religion, political opinion, social or economic status or national or ethnic origin;
  • to give particular attention to developing the leadership role and involvement of women in society;
  • to build solidarity and mutual cooperation among member organizations;
  • to encourage through their organizations closer relationships among teachers and education employees in all countries and at all levels of education;
  • to promote and to assist in the development of independent and democratic organizations of teachers and education employees, particularly in those countries where political, social, economic or other conditions impede the application of their human and trade union rights, the advancement of their terms and working conditions and the improvement of educational services;
  • to promote unity among all independent and democratic trade unions both within the educational sector and with other sectors; and thereby contribute to the further development of the international trade union movement.


The Education International has campaigned for the release of the leader of Bahrain's teachers' union, Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb. The campaign is hosted on LabourStart.[21]


  1. ^ "Education International". Education International. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  2. ^ Susan Hopgood is General Secretary of the Australian Education Union.
  3. ^ a b c d Towsley, The Story of the UNESCO/ILO 1966 Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers, 1991.
  4. ^ a b Docherty, Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor, 2004.
  5. ^ a b c Guthrie, Encyclopedia of Education, 2002.
  6. ^ Quadrenniel Reports...: Addendum, Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, United Nations, March 20–31, 1995.
  7. ^ Rütters, "International Trade Secretariats – Origins, Development, Activities," International Trade Union Organisations, no date.
  8. ^ "Albert Shanker, 1928-1997," American Teacher, April 1997.
  9. ^ a b Osava, "Teachers of the World - United and Underpaid," Inter Press Service, July 26, 2004.
  10. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 4, "Membership." Article 5 stipulates that a "Committee of Experts" appointed by the EI Executive Board may examine prospective members to ensure the applicant meets the conditions of membership established in Article 4.
  11. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 5, f.
  12. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 5, j.
  13. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 5, i.
  14. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 5, b.
  15. ^ a b Education International Constitution, Article 10, c.
  16. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 10, d.
  17. ^ a b Education International Constitution, Article 10, i.
  18. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 13, a.
  19. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 12.
  20. ^ Education International Constitution, Article 13.
  21. ^


  • "Albert Shanker, 1928-1997." American Teacher. April 1997.
  • Docherty, James. Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor. 2d ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8108-4911-9
  • Education International Constitution. No date. Accessed September 30, 2007.
  • Guthrie, James W., ed. Encyclopedia of Education. 2d ed. New York: MacMillan Reference Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-865594-X
  • Osava, Mario. "Teachers of the World - United and Underpaid." Inter Press Service. July 26, 2004.
  • Quadrenniel Reports on the Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council, Categories I and II. Quadrennial Reports, 1990-1993: Addendum. Report submitted through the Secretary-General pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 1296 (XLIV) of 23 May 1968. Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. United Nations. March 20–31, 1995.
  • Peter Rütters, Michael Schneider, Erwin Schweißhelm, and Rüdiger Zimmermann, eds. Bonn, Germany: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, no date.International Trade Union Organisations: Inventory of the Archive of Social Democracy and the Library of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.Rütters, Peter. "International Trade Secretariats – Origins, Development, Activities." In Accessed September 30, 2007.
  • Towsley, Lona. The Story of the UNESCO/ILO 1966 Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. Morges, Switzerland: World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession, 1991.

External links

  • Education International Web site
  • Education International African Regional Website
  • Education International Asia-Pacific Regional Website
  • Education International Europe Regional Website
  • Education International Latin America Regional Website
  • Education International North America - Caribbean Website
  • International Education: Is Free Postgraduate Education in Europe still possible?