Education international:

Rebuilding the Asia-Pacific

I recently had the privilege of participating in the 9th Education International Asia Pacific Regional Conference held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in October.

I was a member of an IEUA delegation, along with delegates from education trade unions from Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region. The four-day conference was themed Rebuilding the Asia-Pacific: Educators and their unions at the forefront towards a sustainable future.

In the context of a post-pandemic world, the conference recognised the significant impacts COVID-19 has had on educators and their students, while acknowledging the crucial role played by trade unions and community leaders in reshaping and rebuilding a better future.

Participants had the opportunity to explore equality and gender equity; protecting indigenous communities, language and culture in community; organising and retaining youth as activists; higher eduation academic freedom and organising for climate change education.

It was enlightening to hear from activists and participants working within the often dangerous constraints of politically and socially oppressive regimes, where freedom of speech and organising are curtailed.

I learnt about the strategies of our regonal neighbours engaging and activating youth around social change for social justice and equity.

The conference explored the extreme impacts of climate change on communities of the Asia Pacific region, the dislocation caused to many of its communities and the absolute need to achieve climate justice in response to such threat.

Unions continue to play a major role in promoting and achieving equity and justice for communities suffering the impacts of devastating climate change; and in defending the rights and freedoms of peoples living under repressive regimes around the world.

Keynote speakers spoke on post-pandemic education challenges and the future of work in education, including the role of a UN-sponsored global commission on teaching.

Opportunities for networking with colleagues and activists from around the region was so rewarding and challenged me to examine the core values underpinning our work and the reasons for continuing the advancement of education, democracy and human rights around the world.

I forged new friendships and collegial connections from this wonderful experience in Cambodia. We also had a chance to explore the wonders of the Angkor civilisations, enjoying the marvels of their architectural and engineering feats.

Liam Griffiths Organiser