The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has criticised strongly the Government’s lack of action to secure children’s human rights, including the right to quality education.
Speaking on World Teachers’ Day at an NASUWT fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said entitlements for all children introduced by previous Conservative administrations, including the national curriculum and a national inspectorate, were being undermined by the current Conservative government’s policies.
He called on the government to show moral leadership at home and abroad to put the rights of children and teachers first.
He called for the government to reprioritise efforts on human rights as a key aim of its international aid and development work and to ensure that it plays a greater role in protecting and advocating for fundamental rights and freedoms in Bahrain, Iraq and other countries.
He also warned that scrapping the provisions in the Human Rights Act would undo the fundamental rights given to children and young people.
The event was chaired by NASUWT President Graham Dawson and also speaking was Louise King, Co-Director of the Children’s Alliance for England.
Dr Patrick Roach said:
“Today is the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, a day to celebrate the contribution of teachers to building sustainable societies. But today we have further reason to be concerned about children’s rights to a quality education.
“The denial of the fundamental human right to education is one of the greatest threats to the planet.
“We say that leadership from government is the key to securing the rights of all children and to ensuring that there is no postcode lottery in education.
“We cannot secure human rights for children when the rights of teachers and educators are being attacked.
“The government must show moral leadership and demonstrate that it genuinely places human rights at the core of its policy agenda at home and abroad.
“The government must also press for the human rights of teachers and students to be respected in those countries where we have economic and political relationships to put the rights of children and teachers first.
“The UK’s advocacy of low-fee profit making schools in developing countries requires close and careful examination.
“Education rights and entitlements of children at home and abroad should not depend on ability to pay and should not be run for profit.”
Louise King said:
“This debate is extremely timely as next year the UK Government is being examined by the United Nations on how well it is making good on the promise it made over children’s rights in 1991.
“Action to address the educational achievement gap between from low income families and their peers is to be welcomed. But we cannot afford to be complacent. Huge inequalities still exist in education and we must be mindful that this appears to be shifting both demographically and geographically.”