Arab countries’ teacher union leaders commit to defend human rights and quality public education

The newly elected leadership of the Committee of Education International's Arab Countries Cross-Regional Structure has vowed to protect human and trade union rights and promote quality public education for all in the region.

The Education International (EI) Arab Countries Cross Regional Structure (ACCRS) Committee, meeting from 9-10 May in Beirut, Lebanon, appointed Hussein Boujarra from Tunisia as its new chairperson with Abdelmaoula Bouzzit, from Morocco, being chosen as vice-chairperson.

The other members of the Committee are: Naguib Ikkene and Meriem Mazari from Algeria, Mahdi Abu Dheeb from Bahrain, Hasan Ahmed from Egypt, Hanan Faraj from Iraq, Abdullah El Mehaini from Kuwait, Manal Hdaife from Lebanon, Lemeima Abd El Hamide from Mauritania, Madhat Shtaya from Palestine, Slim Ghriss from Tunisia. Mugwena Maluleke from the EI Executive Board and EI Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst were also present at the meeting.

Participants deeply regretted Mahdi Abu Dheeb’s absence due to a travel ban imposed on him by the Bahraini public authorities. Nevertheless, he was able to participate in the meeting by phone.

Gender equality

During this first meeting since the EI ACCRS Third Conference held in Kuwait from 29 November-1st December 2016, the Committee placed gender equality in unions, education and society in the region high on its agenda. This prioritisation in in the context of the upcoming EI World Women's Conference to be held in February 2018 in Marrakech, Morocco. Maluleke stressed that “discussing gender issues is not a formality, but for unions to implement programmes dealing with prejudices”.

On the topic of extremism, he insisted that “unions have to debate the values necessary for global citizenship, including the requirements for a global citizenship pedagogy”.

Burning issues

The education union leaders also discussed burning regional issues, such as:

•            The privatisation of education in the Arab countries

•            The violation of trade union rights, specifically in light of the upcoming International Labour
                Conference, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 5-17 June

•            The situation for educators and prisoners in Palestine

•            The impact of the refugee crisis in the Arab countries on education and the role of education

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