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The Global Power of Education

NEA hosts initiative to promote universal primary education

By Steve Snider

Monday, November 2, 2009 -- NEA hosted the American launch of the Steve Sinnott Foundation in Washington, D.C. last week, signaling new momentum behind meeting the United Nations Millenium Development Goal to achieve universal primary education for all children by 2015.

The event coincided with the second part of a transatlantic workshop with the National Union of Teachers of the United Kingdom called the Magna Carta Human Rights Education Project. The project brings together 10 U.S. teachers and 10 U.K. teachers to jointly analyze aspects of the Magna Carta and the expansion of human rights throughout history and develop  online resources to be shared by all NUT and NEA members for their work at all levels of education.

Steve Sinnott, who died suddenly at the age of 56 in 2004, was general secretary of NUT, renowned as an activist union leader who united his members and played a prominent role internationally. In addition to the Magna Carta project, Sinnott led Education International’s advisory committee working to bring together teacher unions in Israel and Palestine.

NEA Executive Director John Wilson noted Sinnott’s eloquence in describing “the liberating power of education,” and praised his multiple roles in the work. “Steve cared deeply about human rights and worked tirelessly around the world to advance the cause with a special focus on teacher rights,” he said. “Steve also cared deeply about ensuring every child’s right to a high quality education and was a leader in the Global Campaign for Education’s advocacy to realize education for all by 2015.”

Graham Clayton, executive director of the Foundation, said its aim is “to attract literally millions of teachers into what will be an international community” through innovative web and online exchanges.

The Magna Carta Project is a result of a collaborative effort among NEA’s International Relations Office and Human and Civil Rights Department and NUT. This week’s activities brought together NUT and NEA members together with luminaries in human rights education from across the United States like Dr. Felisa Tibbitts from the Human Rights Education Association and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, author Nancy Flowers, Ashni Mohnot from Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, and Ed O’Brien from Street Law and the U.S. Coalition for the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Steve Sinnot Foundation