On 6 December 2016, the OECD published the results of the PISA 2015 (The Programme for International Student Assessment) in two volumes: Excellence and Equity in Education and Policies and Practices for Successful Schools. OECD tested the competencies of around 540,000 15-year-old students in 72 countries in reading, mathematics, science and collaborative problem-solving, with a special focus on science. The report also contains policy recommendations which include tackling gender stereotypes and providing additional support for children of disadvantaged backgrounds.

At the ETUCE Regional Conference in Belgrade, Serbia, 6-8 December 2016, the European Education Trade Union movement kicked off new policies for empowering education trade unions as key for quality education. 350 education trade union delegates from 131 national education trade unions at all levels of education from 48 European countries debated and voted on a new Work Programme 2017-2020 and several resolutions, to face the challenges education personnel is confronted with in current times.

The European Commission has started in 2015 several consultations with social partners and other stakeholders on the new initiative ‘European Pillar of Social Rights’. Together with several European Trade Union Federations, ETUCE supports the ETUC view and demands regarding this initiative. The ‘Social Rights First!’ action aims at changing the direction of the EU, to make sure that the European Commission’s forthcoming proposals on the European Pillar of Social Rights meet the needs of workers, their families and communities.

Day 2 of the conference was largely devoted to addressing a number of Resolutions as well as internal matters concerning finances, dues, budgets and elections of office-bearers and members of the new Committee.

President Christine Blower opened the quadrennial conference of the ETUCE, the European region of Education International, in the Sava Centre, Belgrade. A welcome speech was given by the Serbian Minister of Education who stressed the need for enhancing the status and attractiveness of the teaching profession and securing investment to underpin quality education provision.

The ETUCE Central and Eastern European Network (CEENET) meeting was the first pre-conference event held ahead of the ETUCE Conference (6-8 December 2016 in Belgrade). The participants discussed the future of the network and evaluated the work conducted during the  first two years. Representatives  from ETUCE member organisations in Georgia, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Slovenia and Bulgaria outlined the key achievements and challenges at stake in their countries.