The defence of quality public education and teachers’ rights are at the centre of discussions between Education International and the Mexican teachers’ union SNTE, the largest in Latin America, in view of SNTE’s application for membership with EI.
According to an EI delegation visiting Mexico Education International and the Mexican Union Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) share many concerns when it comes to quality education; education as a right, the representation and organisation of teachers through legal and legitimate organisations and the struggle for the labour conditions of teachers and for their professional development are just a few of them.
With common ground before EI and SNTE, leaders of both organisations gathered last week in Mexico City to discuss the membership request of the Mexican Union, which represents more than 2 million teachers from all the regions of the country and is looking to join EI’s other 30 million educators world-wide.
During the meeting, Juan Diaz De la Torre, SNTE President, underlined that his union was the first to call for education reform in the country, which is now being implemented by the government. This reform, he said, together with public quality education, provides the chance for millions of children and young adults to successfully join the labour force of the country.
At the same time, he stressed that the SNTE actively defends the teachers and their rights. “Being a teacher here in Mexico or in any part of the world means that one has a liberating will, a transforming will. This is our commitment,” he said.
During discussions focused on the international relations strategy of the union, de la Torre explained that SNTE is looking to close the gap between the national sphere and the international sphere of trade union action. “We want to join the education workers of the world and be part of a common struggle for the teaching profession that guarantees the persistence of quality public education”.
Dennis van Roekel, Vice-President of EI, agreed that as trade unionists and teachers, the members of the different organisations around the world have to unite in order to defend education and those who provide it. “We cannot represent or defend education without defending our own profession,” he said. “Not everybody can be a teacher – it is a very special profession with specific knowledge and capacities. We cannot assure a better future for the children of the world without a strong and united trade union movement”.
The meeting allowed the representatives of EI to become acquainted with the different programs of SNTE, its structure and strategic goals, which are based on the principles of professionalism, monitoring, transparency, communication and a service-oriented trade unionism.
Along with Vice-President Dennis van Roekel, EI was represented by the Executive Board member José Campos, Hugo Yasky and Combertty Rodríguez from the Latin American Regional office and Helena Schulz from the EI communications unit.