Attractiveness of the Teaching Profession project: 1st Seminar in Bucharest

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On 30 and 31 May 2022 in Bucharest, Romania, ETUCE and EFEE held the first sub-regional Social Dialogue Capacity Building Seminar on their joint social partner project “Towards a Framework of Action on the Attractiveness of the Teaching Profession through effective Social Dialogue in Education”. Hosted by the Romanian union FSLI (Federation of Free Trade Unions in Education), the seminar specifically aimed at sharing current research in the light of ongoing and future challenges for the European educational system, while also feeding into the work of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee.

In 2018 ETUCE and EFEE adopted a Joint Declaration on the importance and value of the teaching profession, within quality education institutions that are inclusive, learner-centered, and sustainable. This seminar took stock of this declaration and further enhanced the contribution of the education social partners at all levels for an attractive teaching profession, by promoting and improving social dialogue structures and capacities to rise to the challenges facing the future of education.

The participants, coming from 15 European countries, were welcomed by representatives of the Ministery of Education of Romania, the Romanian Presidency, FSLI, and Eduform Romania. Howard Stevenson, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Nottingham (UK), reminded how the low attractiveness of the teaching profession can be explained by demographic factors, public investment commitments, and national education policy priorities. Most notably, he stressed the role played by the lack of fundings and the administrative burden that teachers must carry as major reasons to reject or drop out of the position. He, however, cited school leadership and high-quality teaching as motivational reasons for teachers to pursue their careers.

Anca Nedelcu (PhD, University of Bucharest), together with speakers from employer and union organizations exchanged tools to increase the motivation of teachers and the attractiveness of the profession. Among these, improved working conditions, higher salaries and access to trainings, and mentorship programmes were of the highest importance: A round table with school leaders, unions, and student representatives then discussed the features of the ‘future teachers’ profile’ and highlighted several ongoing challenges within the profession, such as the importance of maintaining a sustainable environment both for students and teaching staff.

The working breakout groups chaired by Daniel Wisniewski (General Secretary, EFEE) stressed the lack of work time to provide qualitative education due to administrative burden and bad working conditions. Participants focused on the specific professional features of teachers and the need to reinforce teaching skills, digital literacy, and public investment for professional development. Psychosocial risks and stress experienced by teachers were also addressed. ETUCE and EFEE insisted on the necessity to ensure effective Social Dialogue at both national and European level to achieve better working conditions

This debate continued on the second day, when participants focused on learning resources and strategies to innovate in the face of future challenges. Among topics of conversation, stress management, psychological support and initiation to digital tools were mentioned as useful strategies for teachers and education employees to foster innovative and inclusive teaching methods. The final panel relayed the attractiveness of the profession through the role of school leaders and teachers’ work for the integration of migrants in the EU. Luminata Costache (UNICEF, RO) recalled that schools were among the first entry points for migrants into a new society, which meant that teachers had to adapt their teaching methods. She notably mentioned the UNICEF ‘Blue Dots Hubs’, which ensure access to a minimum package of services for children with a migrant background.

Suzan Flocken (European Director, ETUCE) closed the seminar and stressed the importance of strengthening the social dialogue in education to produce a joint ETUCE-EFEE framework of action at European level.

 The next sub-regional seminar of this project will take place in Riga on 14-15 September 2022. Learn about the project here.