Susan Hopgood

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Public Education Day 2020

A Celebration Worthy of the Name

In times of uncertainty and disruption, it is a good thing to remind ourselves of what matters. Public Education Day provides just such a reminder to me, both in a personal and professional sense.

I am one of five generations of my family to attend public school in Australia. My grandmother attended a small rural school not far from the dairy farm where I grew up in Victoria and the youngest generation are returning to their schools this week. Public schools were a constant in our lives, very much at the center of our communities and an influence on my becoming a public school maths teacher.

Today, as the elected president of Education International, I carry that perspective with me in my work in many of the 178 countries with EI member organisations. In too many of these nations including our own, quality public education for every student remains out of reach. Even in pre-virus days, some 60 million primary children were simply out of school. That is why the world through the United Nations set a 2030 goal of quality, equitable education for all.

And that is why we advocate and agitate and organize for the kinds of schools we would want our own families to attend across the generations. More than a public good, quality public education is a human right. Whether it’s for ourselves, including our First Nations children, or our global neighbors, we have the responsibility to use our numbers to make governments responsive and accountable; to make Public Education Day worthy of celebration in every community.

By Susan Hopgood, AEU Federal Secretary