The Educators and Scientists’ Free Trade Union of Georgia (ESFTUG), one of EI’s national affiliates, launched on 5 October, World Teachers’ Day, a teacher-led campaign for quality education entitled Preserve the Past, Spotlight on Present for Better Future. The trade union linked its campaign aiming at raising the Georgian teachers’ voices together at national level to the EI Global Initiative, Unite for Quality Education: better education for a better world.
The launch was attended by ESFTUG members across the country, teachers, civil society organisation representatives, teachers’ associations, public defender’s office representatives, employers and other interested stakeholders in the sector. Broadly aired across the mass media, the event aimed to attract the attention of the general public.
This Georgian teachers’ campaign highlights the crucial role teachers have played in achieving quality education and labour movement history back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Role of teachers in Georgia’s history
An exhibition was held, focusing on the era of Georgian independence, and shows how teachers especially had combined their efforts to demand access to quality education in the country’s rural areas while organising within teachers’ unions. Documents were selected in close partnership with the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia.
It was during this period, before Soviet occupation, that the ESFTUG was set up. A special booklet explaining the history of the labour movement and teachers’ role in the society was developed. By telling these stories, youth activities are promoted and seen as part of a global movement led by educators. Not surprisingly, ESFTUG is particularly proud to highlight its 107 years of history.
Better salaries and respect for teachers’ rights
“Increasing the education budget is not the only way to achieve quality education,” ESFTUG President Maia Kobakhidze said in her welcome speech. “We demand that teachers’ salaries be raised to a proper level. We demand that teachers’ labour, social, economic and legal rights be respected.”
She also urged the Government to ensure that reforms in the education field be implemented in close cooperation with teachers’ representatives. In the short term, she added, teachers’ salaries must be equal to that of public sector employees. In the long term, salaries in the education field need to be negotiated with the trade union’s participation in line with the Law on General Education, she said.
ESFTUG hopes that by 5 October 2014, the International World Teachers’ Day will be acknowledged as Georgia’s national day to celebrate teachers.
EI: Historical fight still relevant
“We wish to commend our Georgian colleagues for joining forces within our Unite for Quality Education campaign by continuing the historical fight for free quality public education for all,” said Martin Rømer, the Director of EI’s region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE). “National authorities, in Georgia, Europe and worldwide, must take up their responsibility to ensure the best education possible, which implies offering teachers a strong social status, as well as decent living and working conditions.”