TEACHING union NASUWT called for international solidarity yesterday as teachers face increasing repression worldwide.
In many countries teachers suffer the consequences of political instability, a lack of justice and heavy-handed policing during protests, union president Fred Brown said.
Some teachers are even receiving death threats, while in Turkey some are losing their jobs and being imprisoned.
In Zimbabwe, which Mr Brown recently visited, the economy has collapsed, resulting in teachers not being paid for months — and corruption and food scarcity are rife, he said.
Addressing delegates at NASUWT’s annual conference in Manchester, Mr Brown spoke in praise of the teachers of Zimbabwe for their commitment and enthusiasm against the odds.
He said: “We need to pay attention to our sisters and brothers in countries where the struggle to be effective teachers and have a decent quality of life is threatened.
“That visit was one of the most important events of my life. These teachers were, and are, fighting to provide high quality education in extremely harsh conditions.”
During a time when privatisation and commercialisation of education are spreading globally, teachers and trade unionists are under attack and state education is sometimes undermined by low-fee private schools, he added.
“We see the routine exploitation of teachers, the narrowing of curricula and restriction of opportunity, all to the detriment of children.”
Mr Brown told delegates: “Where the rights of children anywhere are denied, the rights and freedoms of children everywhere are threatened.”