Education vital for democracy

  • Fred Van Leeuwen, head of Education International, addresses the Caribbean Union of Teachers, alongside Shannon James, president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers (Photograph supplied)

Education is the key to democracy and economic development, the former head of the global teachers’ body Education International has said.

Fred Van Leeuwen, the group’s past general secretary, added education was “an individual and collective right”.

Mr Van Leeuwen was speaking on Tuesday at the opening of the Caribbean Union of Teachers conference, which is being held in Bermuda for the first time.

He told delegates: “Education is the key to human rights, to democracy and economic development. It is one of the most powerful tools against poverty and the way things go in the world depends very much on what teachers do.”

The two-day conference is being held at the Willowbank Hotel.

Julian Monrose, the CUT president, told delegates: “As a trade union we see our role as being very important for national development and the development of the region. Our human resource is the greatest resource that we have and education provides our people with the tools which allow them to compete.”

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, welcomed the delegates and gave them an overview of the ministry’s Plan 2022 for education.

Mr Rabain said that teaching “was the most noble profession in the world”.

He added: “There is an urgent need to make sure our children are prepared for the digital age and there is a critical need to work even closer with the BUT as we look to execute Plan 2022.”

The event was designed to coincide with the CUT student track and field championships, to be held at the National Sports Centre on Friday and Saturday.

The conference and the games are both part of a series of events being staged in the run-up to the Bermuda Union of Teachers’ 100th anniversary in February next year.

Proceeds from the BUT events will go towards a $100,000 scholarship fund for local students.