As the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) spreads across the world, paralysing entire countries, underprivileged families bear the brunt of the crisis, with parents unable to work and support their children. Educators in Palestine and Morocco have decided to donate part of their wages to help the most vulnerable and the fight against the virus.
With over 1.3 billion students worldwide out of school (over 80% of the global student population), millions of children from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out on essential social services provided in their schools, such as school meals. To make matters worse, quarantine measures mean that many parents have lost their jobs or cannot leave the house to provide for their children.
Determined to help their students, education unions from Palestine and Morocco have mobilised their members to raise money for national solidarity funds.
Palestine: support for the vulnerable
Country-wide school closures in Palestine have affected over 1.6 million students at all levels of education. In this context, the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities Professors and Employees (FUPUPE), Education International member in the country, has decided to encourage its members to donate the wage for one working day to the unemployed and the families of disadvantaged students in Palestine.
Morocco: solidarity and union action against crisis profiteering
Nearly 9 million students are unable to attend classes as a result of the country-wide school closures in Morocco. Many of them find themselves in precarious situations.
Trade unions in Morocco, including Education International member Syndicat National de l'Éducation - Confédération Démocratique du Travail (SNE-CDT), have decided to encourage workers and educators to donate three days worth of wages over the next three months to the newly established COVID-19 solidarity fund.
However, while public education workers are showing their solidarity with the most affected, organisations representing private interests in education are lobbying the Moroccan government to obtain tax exemptions and financial assistance to cover workers’ salaries during the COVID-19 school closures. All the while, the same organisations are forcing parents to pay tuition while private schools are closed. In addition, just a few months ago, private education interest groups won a major tax reduction from the Moroccan government.
Education International and SNE-CDT have sent an official letter to the Prime Minister of Morocco, asking for this crisis profiteering to not be tolerated and for the government to distance itself from private education providers that only deepen inequalities and segregation in the country.