The Norwegian education union (Utdanningsforbundet, UEN) has supported the Latin American “Movimiento Pedagógico” since its inception.
Rune Fimreite, the Senior Advisor of International Affairs of the Union of Education Norway (Utdanningsforbundet, UEN), spoke with us about the relationship between the UEN and the Pedagogical Movement; he explained the reasons that have led Norwegian educators to stand by their colleagues in Latin America, many of whom organise their efforts thousands of miles from Norway.
“The development co-operation between the UEN and unions in Latin America has existed since the late ‘80s, and long before the inception of the Pedagogical Movement. The co-operation used to be mainly bilateral (between Norway and the Latin American region), with different education unions in Latin America joining projects with unions in the Nordic countries.
This way of operating posed many challenges, such as the duplication of project, and a severe lack of centralised co-ordination.
From the ‘90s, as a result of the application of neoliberal policies, the unions in the Latin American region were investing a considerable amount of time in resisting and reversing the effect of these policies, from privatisation, decentralisation, and commercialisation of public education, to the permanent de-professionalisation of teachers. The Pedagogical Movement gave rise to protests and mobilisations as a way of confronting the attacks on public education, and in response to the attempts to undermine the role of the trade union movement.
With all this in mind, the establishment of the Pedagogical Movement has created a shift in the way that the trade unions in Latin America function, and this has allowed them to enter a new stage of operation. The Movement is about developing the organizational and the policy development capacities of trade unions in the region in order to propose alternative educational policies that promote quality public education for all, as well as combat social equality; both of which have often constituted a weak point or challenge for many of the unions. This Movement has helped them to develop a common vision and goals, which in turn have enhanced the joint work of the unions in the region.
Building the Movement also implied a collective consultation process with a strong presence of women and educational networks. This has created a space for self-reflection on both the barriers, and the opportunities for critical educational practice. Moreover, the movement is helping to reconstruct a social fabric that had been weakened by neoliberal policies, and to create links of solidarity.
The Regional Committee, with EI’s co-ordination efforts, has played a crucial role in building a strong trade union presence in the region.
Parallels between Latin America and the World
Rune highlighted the similar challenges faced by the trade union movement global, such as the: the privatisation of education, the de-professionalisation of teachers, the lack of professional autonomy, and lack of educator’s inclusion in policy developments. He emphasised that the Pedagogical Movement could be a source of inspiration for other unions around the world, in terms of developing strong co-operative methods from a centralised perspective. He praised the Pedagogical Movement for showcasing the undeniable link between working conditions, professional issues, and quality public education.