Global market dynamics have not benefited education. That’s according to Roger Kaffo Fokou, Deputy General Secretary of the Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement et de la recherche(FESER), one of Education International’s (EI) affiliates in Cameroon, in a statement to mark World Teachers’ Day on 5 October.
“World Teachers’ Day 2014 is being organised around the theme ‘Invest in the future, Invest in teachers’,” said Kaffo Fokou. “The terms used in this slogan fit perfectly with the logic of the globalised market, which has been imposed, with such harmful consequences, on our societies for decades. It is the logic of the balance sheet, of profit-making, which is at the same time the logic of the extreme and shameless exploitation of people and goods.”
He went on to condemn the fact that public education, intended to ensure there is equality between the rich and the underprivileged even in poor countries, has today become unaffordable for the poor.
The price of school books today, set by a private sector dominated by multinationals, has put this essential tool of quality education out of the reach of most school-age children, highlighted Kaffo Fokou. In addition, the number of supply teachers, or “unqualified parent teachers”, is constantly rising and, in some regions, has reached nearly 50 per cent.
“For several years now, this commercial approach has even taken over World Teachers’ Day, with the printing and sale of lengths of cloth, i.e. pagnes(loincloths),” he said. In schools where they have nothing, not even a piece of chalk, their very limited funds are drained to subsidise the purchase of these pagnes, making the capitalists rich at the expense of quality education, Kaffo Fokou explained.
He insisted that the only real development project was education and training.
Invest needed in teachers and education
“Education and teachers are clearly the lowest priority for our government, which seems more than ever to be fighting the wrong battle,” said Kaffo Fokou. “If it really wants to invest in development, in the future, it must invest in teachers, now.”
“In a year in which the North of our country is suffering insecurity arising from the violence officially attributed to the Islamist sect Boko Haram,” he continued, “we call on all teachers to give a thought to the displaced schools, to the colleagues who face the perilous mission of ensuring the continuity of public education for our young compatriots in the high risk areas.”
EI: Government must ensure access to free, public, quality education
EI supports its Cameroonian colleagues in their fight for decent living and working conditions for teachers, and for decent learning conditions for all students. “EI reminds the Government of Cameroon and all public authorities across the globe that they have a responsibility to ensure access to free, public, quality education for all,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “It must do so by consulting the organisations that represent education professionals.”
World Teachers’ Day
Quality education will also be a focus point during World Teachers’ Day, on 5 October, when teachers around the globe will be celebrated in classrooms, villages, and cities for their tireless dedication to the profession.
To make 5 October a day to remember, EI is calling on all members and colleagues to participate by having their voices heard to ensure that world leaders know how important a quality teacher is in helping students reach their full potential.
EI is asking everyone to ‘Push the Button’ by emailing, texting, or tweeting messages of support for quality education directly to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Click here for more information.