EI members come from all levels of education – from pre-school to university. Over 50 percent of members are women, and gender equity is mandated by EI statutes in its governance structures.
The World Congress bringing together over a thousand delegates meets every three years, and regional conferences meet between Congresses. The Executive Board currently has 27 members from 24 countries.
EI is committed to promote the right to education for all persons in the world, without discrimination, and to this end:
To pursue the establishment and protection of open, publicly funded and controlled educational systems, and academic and cultural institutions, aimed at the democratic, social, cultural and economic development of society and the preparation of every citizen for active and responsible participation in society; To promote the political, social and economic conditions that are required for the realization of the right to education in all nations, for the achievement of equal educational opportunities for all, for the expansion of public education services and for the improvement of their quality.
Together with advocacy, another focus for EI is solidarity. Development cooperation programs of solidarity between members in the industrialized and developing countries raise several million euros annually outside the regular dues-based EI budget to support leadership training and capacity building. A principal focus is the development of union capacity to work for Education for All in each country. This is combined with an extensive program aimed at the prevention of HIV/AIDS through education together with the World Health Organization. Programs are currently underway in 27 countries.
EI also applies the principle of linking local mobilization with global advocacy in defense of human and trade union rights. Teacher union leaders are often targeted either by governments or by armed groups, in countries like Nepal, Columbia and Ethiopia. When leaders are attacked, or imprisoned, or member unions repressed, EI launches Urgent Action Appeals and affiliates respond with waves of protests to the governments concerned.