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Senegal: Teacher Unions evaluate EFAIDS Programme

In mid June the Senegalese Committee of Education Unions against HIV/AIDS (COSSEL), which is composed of four EI affiliated teacher unions, namely, SNEEL-CNTS, SUDES, SYPROS and UDEN, carried out an evaluation of the EFAIDS Programme in Dakar.

This year was not all plain sailing for COSSEL. The progress of the EFAIDS Programme was somewhat slowed by a number of strikes held by the education unions in Senegal during the first part of the year. The strikers were demanding respect for agreements drawn up between COSSEL and the Ministry of Education between 2003 and 2006. The teachers’ movement eventually agreed to the decision of the President of the Republic to arbitrate the conflict and to honour a number of the key promises made to the unions. The unions will be closely monitoring the steps made to keep these promises. It is crucial to address the political and social context in which the unions are working because of the considerable impact this has on the implementation of their activities. Teacher unions do not always work under circumstances which are conducive to changes and relations with the employer are not always easy. This can put a dampener on efforts made by the unions to realise their goals, in this case, achieving Education for All and putting a stop to the spread of HIV and AIDS. This year COSSEL decided to focus on Education for All in Senegal and particularly the regional dimension (girls’ education, school maps, gross enrolment rates etc). Likewise COSSEL produced many thousands of copies of its first publication ‘COSSEL-ECHOS’, a free newspaper aimed at members of the unions and which features the activities, successes and challenges experienced by COSSEL in the field of EFA and HIV/AIDS. As regards advocacy work, COSSEL facilitated the formation of a new group composed of its members who will work on the issue of voluntary and anonymous testing for teachers. These groups will visit education institutes with a view to encouraging teachers to establish their status. Finally, by the end of this year, a census study will be carried out by the unions to identify the real needs of teachers. COSSEL representatives have noted that a lack of partnerships prevents the programme from developing as much as they would like it to. However, advocacy efforts will focus in on this issue in the course of the second semester of 2007. The idea is that the potential partners of COSSEL, first and foremost the Ministry of Education, will be contacted once again to assess their willingness to support the activities of the unions and particularly their wish to institutionalise HIV/AIDS education in the school curriculum of the trainee primary school teachers. For more information, please contact us at efaids@ei-ie.org

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