Following the devastating earthquake in Eastern Turkey last November, EI and its member affiliates provided support to help Turkish union Egitim Sen and its members in the affected region. The earthquake killed 600, amongst them 75 teachers. Egitim Sen is leading the efforts to assist earthquake victims locally, helped by donations from EI and one of its member affiliates in Germany, GEW and the Netherlands, AOb.
Egitim Sen’s members across the country have been collecting aid and materials needed in the affected region. Additionally, a group of trade unionists from Egitim Sen’s affiliate, KESK, have gone on a mission to Van, a South-Eastern Turkish city highly affected, to help make life easier for people living there.
Unionists reported that, while students returned to school on 2 January, education conditions are still precarious. Only 20 per cent of pupils are attending classes, which are often given in tents and containers. Egitim Sen has replaced students’ missing education materials, such as stationery, school bags, books, and notebooks.
One of the main issues after the earthquake was accommodation. Consequently, Egitim Sen also provided earthquake victims with tents and a prefabricated house to be used as a union office. KESK arranged a tent zone (the so-called tent city) hosting teacher unionists and their families and providing those who needed food with three meals per day during the month following the earthquake.
Blankets, staple food, sanitary necessities, infant food, and electric devices for heating in KESK’s tent area were also delivered. The union also sent a prefabricated house to Ercis province, another affected area, to be used as an aid coordination office.
Equally, the union sent teacher affiliates specialised in psychological counselling to assist teachers, students and parents in Van to overcome psychological problems arising from their experience of earthquake.
“EI’s contribution has facilitated our difficult work in Van, unfortunately a place already deprived of enough of the State’s attention,” said Egitim Sen’s International relations Coordinator, Açalya Temel. “We really appreciate EI’s solidarity. It makes us stronger in these hard times.”