Support to affiliates in Lesotho
In a letter dated 1 August, EI General Secretary David Edwards requested the Lesotho Government to meet with EI affiliates to address teachers’ legitimate requests.
These concerns include the payment of salaries, pensions and allowances; vacancy issues, appointments, transfers, and training opportunities; as well as the delayed payment of utility grants, unreasonable teacher-pupil ratios, and the availability of textbooks for some schools.
Edwards urged the Ministry of Education “to treat the teachers’ concerns with the urgency they deserve”. He called for the inclusion in consultations of the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), the Lesotho Teachers’ Trade Union (LTTU), and the Lesotho Schools Principals Association (LeSPA). This would “ensure full representation of all stakeholders in the review of teacher salaries in line with academic and professional qualifications”.
Edwards encouraged the Minister’s office to implement the 1996 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which sets out the norms and standards of decent work for education personnel as a means of respecting teacher rights while protecting the right to education.
Training workshops for young union activists in Senegal
The 2018-2020 programme, “Young teachers for quality education and effective unions - Capacity-building for leadership and unity and the rejuvenation of education unions”, kicked off with a training workshop for young union activists in Dakar from 19-21 June.
Attended by representatives from all EI affiliates in Senegal and Ivory Coast, the workshop aimed to spread unionisation and secure stronger education unions, increased numbers of young activists involved in union activity, and to strengthen trade union unity.
Launch of research study on privatisation and commercialisation of education in Nigeria
The launch of the study, “Quality and equality: a comparative study of public and low-cost private schools”, on 31 May in Lagos constituted the basis for a campaign against privatisation in Nigeria.
Low-cost private schools are spreading and minimising the Nigerian governments’ responsibility to provide equal opportunities to schooling. The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has fought the spread of such multinational companies. They acknowledged the need for them to take the lead in stopping exploitation of the poor under the guise of low-cost academies.
EI and its affiliate reiterated their will to continuously advocate for free publicly funded education and fight attempts by multinationals to bring privatisation through low-cost, for profit schools.
Global Response workshop in Cote d’Ivoire
From 9-10 May, a workshop co-organised in Grand Bassam, Cote d'Ivoire, by EI and Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES)-Cote d'Ivoire brought together education unionists from West Africa’s Francophone countries.
EI encouraged its affiliates to embark on a fight against privatisation and commercialisation of education. The need to advocate that governments must provide free, public, and quality education to all was underlined.
Affiliates were also urged to promote unity to become stronger and lead successful advocacy actions, and to conduct research about the privatisation/commercialisation of education in their countries, for evidence-based advocacy.
From 6-7 April, 11 EI African Office (EIRAF) staff members were trained on school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) issues during the Hearing our Stories (HOS) workshop. This training aimed to increase staff’s knowledge on and understanding of SRGBV (scope, forms and root causes). Participants shared stories on SRGBV and reflected on possible actions to help unions and their members to effectively address SRGBV in order to create safe schools in West Africa.
Major issues raised were the involvement of teachers in SRGBV as perpetrators, the victimisation of/discrimination against the victims, and the non-enforcement of laws fighting gender-based violence in many countries.
In Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from 26-27 March, the EI African Regional Standing Committee meeting (EIARC) adopted the theme and agenda for the November Africa Regional Conference. The agenda and the thematic issues for discussion are aligned with issues to be tackled during the upcoming 8th EI World Congress.
The EIARC also discussed the challenges facing the teacher trade union movement in Africa, including violations of human and trade union rights in several countries, and falling membership.
Also, a burning topic is the continued creation of splinter unions and internal conflict within some unions. It was recommended that funding be sourced to support a unity programme, and to continue to prioritise trade union unity in the region.
An external evaluation to assess 10 years of actions by the African Women in Education Network (AWEN) was conducted from April to August. The consultants undertook a desk study in the regional office, organised a workshop with AWEN leaders and EIRAF coordinators, and undertook field visits in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ghana, Guinea, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Zimbabwe. Achievements were analysed, failures and challenges highlighted, and recommendations for the network’s future made.
Findings show that AWEN contributed hugely to the change in attitudes and behaviour of union leaders, due to increased understanding of gender equality issues. Many unions have also taken concrete actions to promote and support the election of female leaders. However, although women represent the majority of the membership, men still dominate union leadership. AWEN is still challenged to achieve effective communication within and between the different networks, and there is a need to focus more on gender mainstreaming.
ECE workshop in Rwanda
A collaborative ECE workshop was organised by EI and the Danish National Federation of Early Childhood and Youth Educators (BUPL) and the Danish trade union council for international development co-operation (LO/FTF) to help colleagues in Rwanda interpret and customise the ILO ECE guidelines, and build affiliates’ capacity to advocate for non-discriminatory labour laws. In Rwanda, ECE teachers are neither trained nor paid like other education workers and teachers.
The status of ECE teachers in Rwanda, the national frameworks on ECE, the need for union policies, and an advocacy proposal to support ECE teachers as part of mainstream education were among the themes debated.
Workshop on EWI in Sierra Leone
Held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, this workshop gathered national education union leaders to prepare them for engagement with the Education Workshop Initiative (EWI).
The union leaders, guided by EI staff, developed strategies and work plans to bring the EWI and the Government of Sierra Leone together to work on education workforce issues.
This workshop helps build on existing work on education workforce issues, such as work the one led by the UNESCO International Task Force for the achievement of the Agenda 2030, emphasising the significance of teachers and ESP.
EI is linking its affiliates to the EWI, helping them to influence governments in favour of the workforce in education. It ensures that its affiliates take part in developing the report that will inform the Education Commission.
Training on gender equality issues for African affiliates
This training and advocacy activity aimed to enhance the knowledge on gender equality issues of union leaders from EI affiliates in the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Kenya. The activity was fully sponsored by the unions with the support of the National Education Association (NEA).
Participants were trained in gender concepts, such as gender mainstreaming. The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) experience in combatting SRGBV was shared with the Western African unions, and a mapping of SRGBV in those countries was conducted.
Key issues discussed included: women leadership, mainstreaming gender into union structures and programmes; effective means to achieve gender equality in unions, education, and society; eradicating SRGBV; union strategies to implement the conclusions and recommendations of the 3rd EI World Women’s Conference.