For existing, new, and aspiring International Solidarity Officers (ISOs), register in advance for the ISO online briefing being held on Thursday 21 January from 6pm-7.30pm. Hear about the NEU’s international work, understand solidarity, and find out about the ISO role.
The NEU, in partnership with other organisations, supports a wide range of international campaigns which aim to: support teachers and their unions, advance high quality education for all, work towards poverty reduction and sustainable development, and promote human rights.
Action of the week
Colombia: New death threats against leaders of the FECODE education union
NEU Joint General Secretaries have written to the President of the Republic of Colombia to demand immediate protection measures for all FECODE Executive Committee members after death threats were sent to all 15 members. The threats come in the aftermath of national actions led by trade unions over the social, health, education and economic crisis in the country. Read the letter here. You can also take action by signing the LabourStart petition holding the authorities accountable to ensure immediate protection.
Statement on the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty
The National Education Union condemns the horrific killing of French teacher, Samuel Paty on Friday 16 October. The joint General Secretaries of the NEU have written letters of condolence and solidarity to our sister union in France and have written to the French Education Minister.
Teachers must have the right to carry out their daily work in safety. No one should face threats or violence in the course of their working lives. Members of the National Education Union in the UK are deeply shocked by the brutal killing of this teacher.
Teaching children and young people about our human rights and inspiring students to play a positive role in society is part of the vital work that teachers across the world carry out diligently every day.
We stand in solidarity with all education staff and students in France at this dreadful and traumatic moment. Mr Paty’s friends, family and colleagues are very much in our thoughts in their time of grief and mourning. We pay tribute to Samuel Paty's life and join with his French colleagues in commemorating his dedication to the profession of teaching.
Beyond the Blockade: Education in Cuba
Beyond the Blockade is a collection of essays on Cuba’s education system written by British educators from their observations and experiences in a series of study tours to the socialist island.
Publication was funded by the NEU, edited in part by Gawain Little and includes a Forward written by NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney.
The book is available to purchase from Manifesto Press. NEU Members get a discount by entering their membership number at checkout.
Take action by writing to your local MP on the Rohingya refugee crisis
In July the NEU hosted a webinar on the humanitarian crisis facing Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
To support the Rohingya, NEU members were instructed to lobby their MPs and to advocate locally by all of the experts on the webinar. This included Hazel Danson (NEU National Treasurer), Sirazul Islam (Youth Advocate, British Rohingya Community), Yasmin Qureshi MP (Shadow Minister, Department for International Development) and Bill Van Esveld (Associate Director, Human Rights Watch).
Take action by using the sample email below to write to your local MP on the educational crisis facing Rohingya children and the humanitarian crisis that is severely hitting the wider community.
You can find your local MP and their contact details on the Parliament website.
Email your MP - sample email
I write to you as a teacher/parent/governor/concerned member of the public from your constituency about the Rohingya refugee crisis and children’s denial of education.
Like me, you will no doubt remember that in August 2017, 740,000 ethnic Rohingya were forced to flee Myanmar and enter Bangladesh as they fled rape, massacres and ethnic cleansing. This followed decades of statelessness, systematic discrimination and targeted violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar.
Despite the passage of time, be in no doubt that Rohingya refugees continue to face a humanitarian emergency. 800,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh need humanitarian assistance, according to UNHCR. Aid groups have also warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if COVID-19 is not contained, but cases have already been found in the refugee camps. Low testing capacity, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and a weak health infrastructure all increase the risk of transmission.
Of serious concern is the cruel, continued and senseless denial of education; 400,000 Rohingya children in Bangladesh are being denied their right to a quality education. These children, who have already lost almost three years of school, currently face no prospect of formal, accredited, quality education. This has been described by Human Rights Watch as the result of intentionally obstructive policies by the Bangladesh government.
In 2019 the UK provided an unprecedented £90 million in new funding for Education Cannot Wait (the global fund dedicated to education in crises and emergencies). However, this ambitious funding must also be matched with targeted leadership from the UK Government if Rohingya children in Bangladesh are to realise their right to education.
As my constituency MP, I am therefore asking you to write to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and call on the Government to:
- Publicly call on Bangladesh to allow all Rohingya children access to formal, accredited education from pre-primary through secondary school.
- Coordinate international donors to persuade and support the Bangladesh government to lift educational restrictions that violate Rohingya refugee children’s right to education, focusing on allowing access to formal education, instruction in the Bangla language, secondary education, and the Bangla curriculum.
- Ensure that funding to education in Bangladesh promotes the integration of refugee children in national education systems, in line with the Global Compact on Refugees
- Ensure that funding considers the specific needs of the most marginalised including girls and disabled children
I would be grateful if you could raise these concerns with the Prime Minister. As my member of Parliament, I would also be interested to hear your thoughts in response to the concerns I have raised.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Inclusive humanitarian response for the Rohingya in the face of COVID-19
The Joint General Secretaries have written a letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK urging an inclusive humanitarian response for the Rohingya people in the face of COVID-19.
The Bangladesh Government have played an important role in hosting Rohingya refugees who were forced to flee atrocities perpetrated against them in Myanmar. However, deep concern still exists for the human rights and wellbeing of the Rohingya people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Districts and branches are invited to submit nominations for the Steve Sinnott International Solidarity Award which gives recognition to members who have made exemplary contributions to their school or branch or districts’ work on international solidarity.
News and articles
Following the publication of the UK’s negotiation objectives this week, the NEU has joined with other UK trade unions, environmental organisations and health and human rights groups to call for an EU-UK trade deal based on rights, justice and sustainability.
A new report from the National Education Union and UK civil society organisation Global Justice Now examines the problems with privatisation of school education around the world and the role of the Department for International Development in pushing it through its aid programme.
Solidarity is a key trade union value. The NEU stands in solidarity with the many teachers around the world who are unable to carry out their vocation as they languish in prison, simply because they are trade unionists.
In 2018, a delegation of members went to Cuba to examine current educational provision in rural and urban environments. The group visited primary, secondary, special educational needs and arts schools; met teachers and trade unions; and took part in historical, cultural and community visits.
Campaigns we support
The National Education Union is a core supporter of Send My Friend to School, the campaign which brings together thousands of children across the UK to speak up for the right to education and remind world leaders of their promise that all children should get the chance to go to school.
Solidarity is at the heart of the NEU, be that domestically or internationally, internally or externally. We work in partnership with a variety of international campaigns and organisations to deliver our goals and theirs.