Pedagogy 2017: A Conference for the Unity of Educators took place in Havana, Cuba from January 30 to February 3, 2017. Close to 6,000 educators from 18 countries participated in the five day conference. The Conference was sponsored by the Cuban government, UNESCO, UNICEF, and six international partners. Pedagogy 2017 received 1,945 submissions for presentation papers and OSSTF/FEESO was selected to present a paper on the “Tri-national Coalition for the Defence of Public Education.”
Our delegation, Executive Officers Rob Gascho and Jo Dean, and Executive Assistant Wayne Milliner, heard delegates from Spain, Brazil, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, Mexico, Uruguay, Honduras, Venezuela, USA, Peru, Colombia and Canada report on the challenges facing public education.
The Costa Rican-Panamanian delegations lead a powerful presentation on Inclusive Non-Sexist Pedagogy. This group has been working with Co-Development Canada (CODEV) as well as the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).
As one of the conference activities, the OSSTF/FEESO delegation was able to visit an elementary school (grades pre-K–6), a junior high school (grades 7–9), and the national ballet school (grades 7–12). It was a fantastic and eye-opening experience to see first-hand what Cuban educators are able to do with minimal resources. They are very proud of their efforts, their country and Fidel Castro.
Jo Dean attended a meeting of Cuban Labour leaders, similar to our Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), which provided insight into the struggles facing Cuba in education, and the challenges of rapid social change.
This conference was a valuable opportunity to see how education in Ontario compares with jurisdictions in the rest of the Americas as well as Europe. It reinforced the importance of international education solidarity. We cannot assume that Canada and Ontario will be immune from the kinds of attacks on public education that we have witnessed in recent years by governments throughout Central and South America, as well as in Mexico and the USA.