Gordon Brown urges trade unions to join global education action group
The international trade union movement has been urged to play a key role in the fight for quality education for children around the world.
Gordon Brown made an impassioned plea for them to join the new Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action.
The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education told 1200 delegates at the International Trade Union Confederation Congress in Berlin that they could help to put an end to child labour, child marriage, discrimination against girls and exclusion from education.
Mr Brown highlighted the importance of unions and said they could play a vital part in ensuring quality and accessible education is available for all children. He urged them to unite in a movement to support the civil rights struggle of girls in Nigeria, after the mass abductions at Chibok and other attacks by Boko Haram.
He said: “It is every parent’s nightmare that their child goes to school, what should be a safe place, a safe haven, and never comes home,.
“The international community must do more to help the Nigerian government to save these girls, create safe schools, and to ensure that every girl has the opportunity to go to school.”
Mr Brown also said the recent mining tragedy in Turkey – when an explosion and fire killed more than 300 miners at Soma – showed what unions can do.
He added: “If anybody has any doubts about solidarity and about how people help each other when faced with difficulty, how the injured help the dying… let them see the importance of solidarity that you represent.”
Mr Brown said that same type of solidarity is needed if students and teachers are able to to go schools without fear of discrimination or violence.
Education International General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, who is a member of the emergency coalition, praised the special envoy for his support of EI and his partnership with the organisation. He joined Mr Brown in Nigeria recently to launch the Safe Schools Initiative.
Mr van Leeuwen told the delegates: “On behalf of EI, I want to thank Gordon Brown for coming here today to share his passion with global unions to see that no child grows up without a quality education.
“Together we have the opportunity to bring about real change.”
Meanwhile, all schools in Nigeria are expected to be closed today as to allow teachers to part in a day of Bring Back Our Girls rallies.