At its 22nd congress held in Yamoussoukro between 1-4 April, the Syndicat National de l’Enseignement Secondaire de Côte D’Ivoire (SYNESCI) elected a new executive board. It also emphasised the crucial role of educators in national reconciliation and reconstruction.
The union made changes to its executive board, appointing Siaka Traoré who replaces Mamadou Soro as Secretary General.
A number of speakers at the conference praised the decisive action and qualities of the outgoing Secretary General, which allowed the SYNESCI to survive in a climate of socio-political crisis despite his forced exile of 10 months in Burkina Faso after his return from the African Regional Conference in December 2010.
Challenges in achieving Education for All
The congress was an opportunity to highlight the challenges faced by the national education system in achieving goals regarding Education for All. Chief among these challenges are the shortage of qualified teachers, arrears in promotion bonus payments, enforcement of agreements signed in 2011, and improvement of education infrastructure.
The report on SYNESCI’s legal and financial activities was then approved.
The new secretary general, Siaka Traoré, expressed a desire for Education International (EI) to undertake an initiative to support reconciliation and reconstruction and back the fight against child labour.
The chief regional coordinator, Assibi Napoe, attended this conference along with EI Secretary General Fred Van Leeuwen, the congress patron.
Napoe pledged the support of the EI Africa Region to this union which has opposed government policy for the past 10 years. She was also involved in assessing union activity since the last congress in 2008. And she contributed to the debates and helped redefine SYNESCI trade union policy.
Napoe also called for gender to be taken into account within the union’s structures. And she expressed her pleasure that teachers are playing a fundamental role in reconciliation and reconstruction and highlighted “the demonstration of internal democracy within the organisation through freedom of speech”.
Education crucial to reconstructing the country
Mr van Leeuwen added that “this congress, organised just a few months after the tragic events which have caused so much bloodshed in Ivory Coast, must now be the congress of reconstruction and, what is more, reconstruction prompted by a will to bring lasting peace to the entire country. As teachers, it is now more than ever your duty to educate your students in the values of democracy and respect for peace.
“The strength of Education International lies in this solidarity that beats in its chest wherever human rights are flouted. It was with you throughout this period of conflict and it is with you now to help you with the reconstruction.”