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Home > News > 2018 > February > Australia must play its role in sustainable development

Australia must play its role in sustainable development

E_2016_SDG_Poster_all_sizes_without_UN_emblem_A3.jpgSeventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set by the United Nations to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all following the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. 

Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the 15 year period. Our union can play an important role in ensuring these goals are achieved. 

Australia must play its role at home and abroad. 

The recent Close the Gap Report also demonstrates there is much more that the Australian community needs to do at home.

Internationally we must play a role in advocacy to reject attacks on the goals and to promote positive developments addressing the SDGs. 

At a recent meeting of the Council of Pacific Education (COPE) – of which our union was a part – there was a renewed focus on the goals of quality education, gender equity, and decent work and economic growth. 

While all goals are of concern, Goals 4, 5 and 8 are particularly relevant to education. 

IEUA Assistant Federal Secretary Christine Cooper said it is important that our union be aware and engaged in the implementation of the SDGs because we represent such a large collection of Australians. 

“Our membership is over 72,000 strong, and our members know what needs to be done to achieve quality education. 

“Our union – alongside our colleague education unions across Australia – can use its sphere of influence to ensure these goals are properly met,” Ms Cooper said. 

In coming months the IEUA will plan its strategy for engaging with and advancing the SDG agenda – co-ordinating its approach with the Australian Education Union (AEU) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).

4 Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. 

According to the UN, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls, but bolder efforts are needed to make greater strides for achieving universal education goals. 

The real threat to global education access 

IEUA Assistant Federal Secretary Christine Cooper said the commercialisation of schools on a global scale poses a threat to education access. 

A recent example of this being the commercialisation of 300 schools Rajasthan – India’s largest state in the country’s North West. 

“These schools will be commercialised through a competitive bidding process where private businesses will be empowered to appoint teaching and support staff. 

“Commercialising schools and placing them under the control of for-profit entities threatens students’ access to education. 

“There is a growing global trend of commercialisation – alarmingly most common in countries where people can least afford to pay for schooling. 

“Australia should take a leadership role in supporting the SDGs and advocacy for the provision of quality education for all.”

Ms Cooper said one way we as a union are combatting this threat is through the work of Education International (EI) – the peak international union body for educators. 

“EI has named growing commercialisation as the greatest threat in achieving quality, free education for all. 

“EI continues to work with the broader union movement and a range of like-minded stakeholders and civil society organisations to monitor, analyse, raise awareness of and fight against the commercialisation of education in all its forms in order to protect public education,” Ms Cooper said.

5 Gender Equality

Sustainable Development Goal 5 addresses the issue of gender equity. 

The UN recognises gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. 

Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. 

Education International (EI) President Susan Hopgood addressing attendees at the recent EI 3rd World Women’s Conference Finding a way through ‘the Labyrinth’: women, education, unions and leadership noted 2017 showed that, across the globe, women refuse to remain silent. 

“Achieving gender equality in the workplace means that women and men will have equal opportunities for professional advancement, for realising their full human rights, and for contributing to, and benefiting from economic, social, cultural, and political development,” Ms Hopgood said.

8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

Sustainable Development Goal 8 is focussed on the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. 

The UN has highlighted that providing youth the best opportunity to transition to a decent job calls for: 

•Investing in education and training of the highest possible quality. 

•Providing youth with skills that match labour market demands. 

•Giving them access to social protection and basic services regardless of their contract. 

•Levelling the playing field so that all aspiring youth can attain productive employment regardless of their gender, income level or socio-economic background. 

IEUA Assistant Federal Secretary Christine Cooper said giving youth these opportunities is what our profession is all about, and teachers should call on the government for appropriate support in achieving these goals. 

“Our teachers know what needs to be done to support our youth – what we need is to have decent input into how the federal government approaches addressing these issues,” Ms Cooper said.


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.