The President of the Regional Committee in Latin America, Hugo Yasky, has called for a joint trade union strategy to promote quality public education within the region. At the opening of the Committee’s annual meeting on 7 May, Yasky emphasised education unions’ crucial role in “defending the fundamental right to education”.
The meeting in Granada, Nicaragua, from 7-9 May, is being attended by trade union leaders representing 36 organisations in 15 countries from the whole region.
Access to quality public education
In his opening speech, the President of the Regional Committee acknowledged the Latin American education unions’ fight, not only for improving teachers’ working conditions but also, and, in particular, for securing access to quality public education for all. Yasky praised the union members’ activism and commitment which he described as “a deliberate act of conscience”, complementing and transcending the advocacy for the collective interests.
Yasky highlighted the case of Chile, describing it as “the Latin American country where the knife of privatisation has cut deepest”, with 70 per cent of school enrolments taken by the private sector and only 30 per cent by the state sector. He pointed out that the country’s lack of educational progress is, on the one hand, the failure to maintain attractive salary rates for the teaching profession, and, on the other, a regression in provision for public education and an attack on equal opportunity in access to education.
Yasky’s hope is that this annual meeting will see a fruitful debate which will enhance unions’ work and provide strategic guidelines for the Latin American educational movement, thus seeking to shape alternatives to free market teaching imposed by neo-liberal governments across the region.
With this aim in mind, EI and Latin American unions have established an important sub-regional and continental process to reflect on the key issues: educational policy and democratic governance, budget, teacher training, inclusive curriculum, teaching assessment and non-standardised testing.
"When we think about educational policies in our conferences and events, it would be wrong to group them together and generalise,” writes EI Vice President, Juçara Dutra Vieira, in EI’s report “Hacia un movimiento pedagógico latinoamericano” (Towards a Latin American Educational Movement). “Rather than that, we should think about individual policies and how they affect our daily lives. This is perhaps the greatest challenge we are facing at the moment."