The COVID-19 pandemic has led to innovation and renewed engagement by education unions. In Honduras, the Colegio Profesional Superación Magisterial (COLPROSUMAH) has done its utmost to guarantee decent living and working conditions for teachers and educational support personnel living with disabilities.
Protect lives as well as work
COLPROSUMAH developed diverse activities and actions with members who have disabilities. One of these was the elaboration of a strategic plan to protect their lives as well as their work. A security protocol was consequently developed.
The union also took note of members’ priorities related to employment protection and salary guarantees and presented these to the relevant public authorities.
The COVID-19 pandemic had also led COLPROSUMAH to adopt or advocate for measures ensuring members’ health and safety, especially educators living with disabilities.
In addition, the union organised training on the use and management of technological tools, such as the Zoom platform and Google Teams. These tools helped educators to connect with children and their parents during the public health crisis.
It also campaigned around returning to school in 2021 and advocated for public education and educators’ jobs.
COLPROSUMAH also got its members, including members living with disabilities, involved in its campaign, “Defend the Planet, Defend Life", through the Honduran Pedagogical Movement.
Negative impact of the pandemic
One cause for concern was the massive loss of temporary teaching jobs, which the union has criticised.
It went on to condemn the withdrawal of children from public schools – many left school to enter the informal labour market to support their families.
It also regretted the lack of assistance from the World Food Programme that had contributed to feeding thousands of children in public schools before the pandemic.
Salaries and vaccinations to be prioritised
Among COLPROSUMAH’s specific demands to relevant authorities to support teachers and education support personnel living with disabilities during and after the COVID-19 crisis are:
- Payment of due salaries.
- Priority to be given to the vaccination of all disabled and non-disabled teachers because they are also frontline workers during the pandemic.