International summit a Canadian first

April 21, 2015
ATA News Staff
Alberta Education Minister Gordon Dirks (left) and Alberta Teachers' Association President Mark Ramsankar share ideas during the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in Banff.

Alberta hosts International Summit on the Teaching Profession

Alberta welcomed dozens of education leaders at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP), held March 29 and 30 in Banff.

The event brought together education ministers and leaders of teachers’ unions and associations from a number of high-performing and rapidly improving education systems — based on results from OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) — to discuss the teaching profession as well as education policy and practice. It was the first time the annual event has been held in Canada.

The summit included hard discussions about aboriginal education, the role of unions in advancing education and the development of meaningful school leadership, said Alberta Teachers’ Association President Mark Ramsankar, who attended the event for the second time.

“Participating in the ISTP for the second time has helped me solidify contacts and build deeper relationships with world leaders in education,” he said.

Among the officials in attendance were Gordon Dirks, Alberta’s education minister and Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) chair; Andreas Schleicher, director of the Directorate for Education and Skills with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and Fred van Leeuwen, general secretary of Education International.

“Learning about education systems from other countries has allowed me to reflect on what we do correctly and areas that we can continue to improve. It also makes me proud to be a part of the Alberta education system knowing that it is so highly regarded around the world,” Ramsankar said.

The event began in New York City in 2011 as a way to bring government and unions together in an effort to move public education forward. According to organizers, it has quickly emerged as one of the most important forums in the world for dialogue on education transformation. The summit was hosted by CMEC and The Learning Partnership in partnership with OECD and Education International.

“Alberta has a very vibrant publicly funded public education system because of the relationships we have forged with government,” Ramsankar said.

“Although at times historically we have experienced tension and have not always worked as well as we can, the ISTP has shown me that we remain ahead of many countries in this area.” ❚

Information about the summit can be found at

Discussions can be reviewed by searching Twitter for the hashtag #ISTP2015.