#JeSuisProf: ETUCE condemns violence against education personnel and threats to freedom of expression


ETUCE stands in solidarity with French teachers, academics, other education personnel and their unions mourning a French history teacher who had been harassed and brutally murdered last Friday for a lesson on freedom of expression.

ETUCE extends its sincere condolences to the family of Samuel Paty, his colleagues and students and the education trade unions in France as thousands of people gather throughout the country to express their solidarity.

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by this ferocious assault on a teacher who was simply doing his job. This is an attack on School and its mission, an act of violence against the professional autonomy, democratic citizenship, freedom and the diversity of the society we live in”, commented Susan Flocken, European Director, ETUCE and continued “While we firmly condemn any form of extremism and violence against teachers, together with our French member organisations, ETUCE warns against any attempts of stigmatisation and denounces any political instrumentalisation of this act of violence.”

ETUCE affirms that teaching about the fundamental values of democracy, freedom of opinion and expression, tolerance and equality is key for lifelong learning. Educating students to become open-minded, critically thinking and active citizens with solid democratic values is a task of big responsibility. The priority therefore must lie on safeguarding academic freedom and teachers’ professional autonomy to provide safe physical and social learning and teaching environments where all teachers, academics and other education personnel as well as students feel free to discuss any topics in a democratic and mutually respectful way. ETUCE supports its member organisations in their efforts to ensure that schools and other education institutions are safe places that encourage openness, inclusion and diversity consistent with the Paris Declaration, that the EU Education Ministers had adopted in 2015 against the rise and spread of exclusionary and discriminatory tendencies.

At the same time, this atrocious attack further strengthens the education trade unions’ urgent call for better protection of education personnel from any form of violence and harassment. Teachers can only do their work in a safe and healthy environment, and their well-being must be the key responsibility and priority of education authorities and employers. Too often, education personnel face threats to their physical and psychosocial well-being, preventing them from performing their work in healthy conditions, which can lead to long-lasting negative effects on their person, and jeopardise the overall quality of education.