published 24 May 2016 updated 26 May 2016

From 2-4 March in Bamako, the EI Africa regional office (EIRAF) took part in a meeting to kick off the second phase of the “Quality Educators for All in Mali” project. The project intends to help improve the professional skills of community school teachers in the districts of San, Ségou and Bamako.

Encouraged by the output of the first phase of the project (May 2012 to December 2015), the stakeholders agreed to extend the project through a second phase during which special emphasis will be placed on community based secondary school teachers and the use of ICT in the training modules. The EIRAF and Dennis Sinyolo represented EI.

The Danish Union of Teachers (DLF) and the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM) held a review and planning meeting from 12-13 March in Lilongwe. The review involved the TUM National Executive and Secretariat, Tore Assmussen of DLF, and Richard Etonu on behalf of EI. Their review of the 2014-2016 strategic plan demonstrated that TUM had built confidence among its members and was able to increase its membership subscription fee. Malawi has an estimated 72,000 teachers in both public primary and secondary schools, and TUM membership increased from 35,000 to 37,667 paying members.

The Private Schools Employees Union of Malawi (PSEUM) and Lärarförbundet, Sweden, held a review and planning meeting from 14-18 March in Lilongwe at which  PSEUM was able to show that it had exceeded their 2015 target on recruitment. Richard Etonu represented EI.

The Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA), Lärarförbundet, Sweden, and EIRAF convened a meeting in Harare from 20-23 March to review cooperation around the recruitment, retention, and renewal of ZIMTA membership. At the meeting, which discussed  the political, social, economic, and educational situation in Zimbabwe, ZIMTA reported that its membership had increased from 41,841 to 43,520 in the 6,488 schools in Zimbabwe. Participants were of the view that ZIMTA’s growth can serve as a resource for data management for other affiliates in Africa, having the technical capacity to engage in South-to-South development cooperation.

Teachers under the age of 35 from Francophone African countries attended a workshop on ‘Young teachers for quality education and effective unions’, in Dakar, Senegal, from 6-8 April. The workshop aimed at creating safe and inspiring learning and teaching opportunities for young teacher union activists and to help build their capacity and leadership skills. Participants discussed EI’s Global Response to commercialisation and privatisation programme and related issues in their own countries. It is expected that the project will encourage young union members, women in particular, to play a more active, organised, and visible role within their own unions, as well as within EI. The last workshop in the project cycle, in Spring 2017, will focus on leadership skills and internal and external communications strategies. EI was represented by Anaïs Dayamba, madeleine kennedy macfoy, and Mar Candela.

EIRAF convened a workshop on international labour standards in four countriesin Southern Africa (Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe) from 6-8 April, in Gaborone, Botswana. Because of the deterioration of the labour conditions and changing political and economic circumstances in the region, education unions have to build their capacities in response. This workshop, sponsored by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Bureau for Workers' Activities, focused on the lack of teacher participation in policy dialogue, standards regarding entry qualifications to the teaching profession, enhancing a code of ethics for teachers, and negotiating improved conditions of service. The workshop was timely since some countries are likely to be reviewed at the ILO Commission on the Application of Standards in June. The EI Chief Regional Coordinator, Assibi Napoe, and Emanuel Fatoma represented EI.

The EIRAF Pan African Teachers’ Centre, with financial and technical assistance from the Australian Education Union, conducted a ten-day book development workshop in Bohicon, Benin, from 7-17 April. Participants from six EI affiliates in Benin gathered under the umbrella of the Comité syndical de l'Internationale de l'Education au Bénin, to learn how to develop context-responsive French supplementary readers for primary school children in rural deprived communities.

The Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) held a mid-term review of its 2013-2017 strategic plan on 8-9 April in Kampala, with the assistance of Lärarförbundet, Sweden, and DLF, Denmark. One of the challenges for UNATU is to increase the active engagement of its grassroots membership. A recent UNATU strike action resulted in a salary increase for Uganda teachers.

The Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) and UNATU met on 12 April to strengthen social dialogue, supported by the DLF and the Danish Local Government Authorities Association. In the meeting, a “metadata study on Universal Primary Education” was presented, analysing the root causes for low student performances in Uganda, and comparing them to better-performing countries (Kenya/Tanzania/Rwanda). The meeting also resolved to take advantage of the upcoming review of the Education Act to scale up social dialogue, alleviating challenges to the achievement of quality education. Richard Etonu represented the EIRAF.

A new EI- The United Nations Girls' Education Initiative project on school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) started in Nairobi, Kenya, on 21-22 April. Seven EI affiliates in East and Southern Africa met to develop plans to end SRGBV. Although a growing number of development actors are working to address SRGBV, education unions have been largely absent from these efforts. Teachers and their unions could, however, play a key role in meaningful school and community based  actions  to eliminate SRGBV. The EI Chief Regional Coordinator, Assibi Napoe, Anaïs Dayamba, and madeleine kennedy macfoy represented EI.