Global development cooperation partners share successes and unite to advance public education

published 18 June 2024 updated 11 July 2024

From Albania to Cameroon, members of Education International, are building campaigns to increase funding for public education, and investment in teachers, supported by a network of solidarity from education unions around the world.

In a recent virtual meeting, development cooperation (DC) partners from Education International, gathered to discuss the ongoing capacity-building projects within the framework of the campaign, “Go Public! Fund Education”. The “DC café” highlighted the significant steps forwards being made to promote and defend public education globally.

Strengthening solidarity

Haldis Holst, EI's Deputy General Secretary and Director of the Capacity Building and Solidarity unit, outlined the background and objectives of the Solidarity Fund.

Holst also emphasized the importance of the 59 recommendations from the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, which serve as vital tools for advocacy and mobilization.

Holst further explained that the Solidarity Fund aims to assist member organizations in emergencies and foster cooperation programs with individual teacher organizations. These grants, launched in September 2023, were designed to support capacity-building initiatives that ensure sustained and impactful work by member organizations. Holst stressed the advisory role of the EI regional offices in allocating the grants.

Haldis added by that member organisations define what their challenges are and what they want to do and achieve in their various contexts, and what is the best moment to push for the realisation of their goals.

Supporting progress in Africa

EI's Africa Regional Director, Dennis Sinyolo, highlighted the Solidarity Fund's impact on capacity-building projects across Africa, specifically within the “Go Public! Fund Education” campaign. He detailed the fund's role in responding to emergencies, developing cooperation programs, and enhancing the advocacy capabilities of member organizations for quality public education. He mentioned the programs in countries like Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.

Sinyolo went on elaborating on various activities undertaken by member organizations, including budget tracking, policy analysis, social dialogue, collective bargaining, research, position papers, and high-level events with government officials and parliamentarians.

Successful national campaigns in Albania and Cameroon

Speaking on behalf of EI member organizations in Albania, the Trade Union Federation of Education and Science of Albania (FSASH) and the Independent Trade Union of Education of Albania (SPASH-ITUEA), FSASH International Relation Officer Engjellushe Ibrahimi and the Head of SPASH-ITUEA Legal Department Matilda Zani presented their joint project on the “Go Public! Fund Education” campaign in Albania. This project’s objective is to increase the public budget for education, improve the salaries and working conditions of teachers, and involve the community and the media in their advocacy.

Ibrahimi also shared some of the activities they have done or planned to do, such as workshops, forums, webinars, and social media training.

She also said that they have a team of 20 union representatives from different regions, and that they have participated in the May Day protest with the campaign messages.

Ibrahimi added that the union members were happy and supportive of the project, and that they have had some media coverage and exchange. She also reported that the unions want to have an alliance with parents and students and explain to them that investing in public education is not only for teachers, but also for students.

Roger Kaffo, Deputy General Secretary of the Fédération des syndicats de l'Enseignement et de la Recherche (FESER), one of EI's affiliates in Cameroon, presented the campaign activities in his country. He highlighted the collaborative efforts of three EI member organizations – FESER, the Fédération camerounaise des syndicats de l’Éducation (FECASE) and the Syndicat des travailleurs des établissements scolaires privés du Cameroun (SYNTESPRIC) – focused on addressing the underfunding of public education and enhancing the teaching profession. He emphasized the union use of UN High-Level Panel recommendations to advocate for better investment in teachers and education.

The campaign in Cameroon targets various stakeholders, including parents, students, civil society, state authorities, and political actors, leveraging media engagement to amplify their messages, Kaffo said, announcing plans to engage with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNESCO, and organize a political event in November 2024, ahead of the 2025 electoral year. He finally stressed the campaign's critical and timely nature for Cameroon, committing to its continuation beyond EI funding.

Vision for the future

EI's Director for Campaign and Communication, Rebeca Logan, discussed the future vision for the “Go Public! Fund Education” campaign. She emphasized the importance of consolidating data and analysis from various countries and regions to strategically build and expand resources. The campaign aims to strengthen union power and unity at all levels, fostering solidarity, professional development, and organizing for change, she said.

Logan also outlined the next steps post-Congress, focusing on making the campaign sustainable and enhancing advocacy and mobilization efforts for the coming years.

The virtual DC cafe clearly demonstrated that, through solidarity, sustained collaborative efforts of educators and education advocates, the EI “Go Public! Fund Education” campaign continues to gain momentum.