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In memory of Elie Jouen, 1942-2016: Founder, fighter, and friend

elie boardIt is with deep sadness that the Global Campaign for Education announces the death of one of its founding members, Elie Jouen.

Elie served as a Steering Group member, Chair, and Board Member of GCE between 1999 and 2016, initially representing the teaching profession in his capacity as Deputy Secretary-General of Education International, and then international organisations working on child labour, through his role as Chair of the Global March Against Child Labour.

After his studies in France at the Ecole Normale de Rouen and the Institut d’ Etudes Politiques de Paris, Elie became a primary school teacher, and he quickly became active in one of the national teachers’ trade unions, SNI-PEGC. In 1978, he was elected National Secretary of the French confederation of education unions, Fédération de l’Education Nationale (FEN), known today as UNSA-Education.

In 1980, his focus shifted to the international level, when he became Assistant General Secretary of the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU). During the formation of Education International (EI) in 1993, he was appointed Deputy General Secretary. At this time Elie organised and supervised many EI activities in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, and more specifically in the education and development cooperation fields.

Elie WA2014 mediumIn October 1999, Elie, on behalf of Education International, along with ActionAid and Oxfam International, joined forces with the Global March Against Child Labour to organise public pressure on governments to fulfil their promises to provide free, quality public education for all. This was the founding meeting of the Global Campaign for Education, and within six months – the run-up to the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 – the membership of GCE expanded to include members and affiliates from eight international NGOs and networks, 38 national coalitions and eight regional networks and coalitions, and had run its first ever Global Action Week for Education.

Following his retirement from Education International in 2008, Elie continued his role as a Board member for Global March, working closely with fellow GCE founder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi. In 2015, Elie became the chairperson of Global March, and represented Global March on the GCE Board at its latest meeting in October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.WA2015 Elie medium

Many colleagues at GCE attribute their own knowledge and advocacy skills on the criticality of professional teachers to quality education to the towering example led byElie. He played a pivotal role in the foundation and growth of GCE, and it is one for which the members of the movement will be forever grateful.

Camilla Croso, President of the Global Campaign for Education, in paying tribute to Elie, stated: “We must honour him, taking forward the struggle we started together, keeping our principles clear as we move forward, as we have learnt with him. It moves me very much that at our last meeting, he spoke of reinventing, reinvigorating GCE. It is an inspiration that we must hold dearly, this capacity to remain open, hopeful, and ready to act, invent and reinvent, as we seek to promote a better world.”

Elie’s colleagues and friends across GCE send their sincere condolences to his wife, Marie-Claire, and his family.