The Education and Solidarity Network welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the thinking under the third pillar of EI’s Unite for Quality Education campaign – that on ‘Learning Environments.’ The Network, which EI helped found in 2009, brings together EI member organisations and their social benefits partners, as well as independent teachers’ mutuals and other stakeholders working on health, education and the promotion of social security locally, nationally and at world level.
Describing “healthy” schools is not as easy as it seems at first glance. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition illustrates the point: «Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. »
It should then be obvious that without a healthy school environment, no quality teaching and learning is possible. Likewise, there can be no prosperous and equitable “communities of learners” without healthy teachers and support staff.
The Network further believes that “wellbeing” at school should be defined in the broadest terms and cover the following elements:
– A healthy physical environment
– Access to water and nutrition
– An atmosphere of peace and respect, achieved through the eradication of violence at school and in its immediate vicinity
– Access to vaccination and disease prevention for all stakeholders
– Social protection schemes for all stakeholders (e.g. children support subsidies, healthcare and retirement funds for all education workers …)
– Education about health, social protection and collective wellbeing
Schools and education communities have a natural role to play in developing a society of well-being. The Network therefore works with multiple stakeholders on projects aiming at improving the health and social protection of entire education communities.
In Haiti, a coalition of education unions, three of which are members of EI, have developed an advocacy campaign to improve access to social security and health care for their members, while pioneering a classroom program teaching children about solidarity.
In Burkina Faso, the Network is helping unions in primary education develop a healthcare mutual which will serve as a pilot project for the development of a universal health care system in the country. There too teachers will be able to organize classroom activities on health and social protection issues.
At world level, the Network is launching a study on education workers’ health, in an effort to identify factors in the school environment which most determine and affect their wellbeing, and to develop programs and projects addressing unsatisfactory situations.
The Network looks forward to continuing its work with education workers and other school community stakeholders to promote its vision of healthy schools for all learners in all countries.
The Network wishes EI all the very best with its culmination events of the Unite for Quality Education campaign!