Introduction Top

The EI Solidarity Fund was established to assist member organisations in emergencies such as natural disasters, famine, war, persecution or other life threatening situations. The assistance provided by the EI Solidarity Fund is used mainly for short-term relief to help ensure the survival of organisations and their members.

The Fund, established with voluntary contributions from member organisations and administered by the EI Secretariat, represents a visible example of solidarity among teachers around the world. Natural and man-caused disasters that threaten the lives of teachers and their families call for our solidarity through the delivery of immediate and effective assistance.

At the EI World Congress in 1998, the role of the Solidarity Fund was extended to providing financial support for development cooperation activities with member organisations in developing countries. The decision of the EI Congress opened the way for the Fund to be not only reactive to emergency situations but also pro-active by cooperating with teacher organisations in developing countries and countries in transition. The Congress also decided that EI itself and its member organisations should be invited to allocate 0.7% of their annual income to this work. The EI ‘0.7% of income’ contribution is lodged annually in the Solidarity Fund.

Education is one of the most important tools to combat poverty and terrorism and to establish democratic political systems. As an international trade union organisation, EI has to ensure that colleagues in member organisations are able to carry out their professional role even in life-threatening situations.

Policy Top

All member organisations are invited to contribute to the Fund on an annual basis according to their means. These contributions allow EI to react immediately to organize and coordinate in the most efficient and appropriate way the assistance that our colleagues need.

In addition, as indicated above, the 2nd World Congress in 1998 adopted a resolution that mandated EI to allocate 0.7% of its regular budget to the Solidarity Fund.

Specific appeals are also made to member organisations from time to time, in response to major disasters, requesting additional contributions to assist member organisations affected by the disaster. Some member organisations have decided to donate the budget which they would normally have spent on Christmas Cards to the EI Solidarity Fund.

The Fund is maintained in a special interest bearing account separate from other EI accounts. The Fund is subject to external audit, which is published separately in the financial report to the World Congress.

To obtain assistance from the Fund, member organisation(s) must make a request for assistance outlining the purpose for which the assistance will be used. The EI General Secretary then decides to allocate funds on the basis of the information provided and in accordance with the principles under which the Fund was established. He reports on the Fund to the EI Finance Committee and Executive Board.

The recipients must provide a report to EI head office on the use of the funds allocated. Reports on the use of the funds are provided in turn, on an annual basis, by EI to all member organisations.

Activities Top

Since the Solidarity Fund was established, funds have been allocated to more than thirty support programmes.

In previous years, the EI Solidarity Fund was used:
to rescue Colombian teachers belonging to the Colombian teachers’ union, when their life was under threat;
to help Afghan and Liberian teachers organise schools in the refugee camps;
to meet the education needs of children in war-torn countries like Iraq;
to provide institutional support to teachers in war-torn countries like Palestine and East Timor;
to provide relief to teachers and children who are victims of natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Turkey, the hurricane in Belize and most recently in the areas affected by the South Asian tsunami;
to support long term assistance projects in troubled zones like Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.

The Fund is also used occasionally to support long-term solidarity projects which require ongoing financial support, such as the Beslan Trust Fund to assist children and teachers who were victims of the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, Ossetia.

For more information, please contact EI.

EI Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme

The Indian Ocean tsunami struck on 26 December 2004. Teachers from all around the world reacted immediately to the disaster. 60 hours after the catastrophe, donations started to pour into the Tsunami Relief Fund set up by EI within its Solidarity Fund. The international trade union movement, represented by the Global Unions, conducted a mission to the disaster-affected areas to assess the damages suffered and provide the immediate assistance needed.

Since that day, EI works hard helping teachers and children in the lands destroyed by the sea through our Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme.

Indonesia

The tsunami mostly affected the coastal areas of northern Sumatra, where the Aceh province is situated.

At least 2,000 teachers were reported missing in Aceh and over 50% of school buildings were destroyed by the tsunami. 140,000 elementary school students and 20,000 high school students were left with nowhere to study. Based on initial data from the Director General of Elementary and Secondary education at the Ministry of National Education, 914 Elementary school buildings, 155 Junior High school buildings, 67 Senior High school buildings and 15 Vocational schools were devastated. It is reported that the tsunami killed 195 lecturers of the SYAH KUALA University (the biggest university in Aceh). It is feared that the university may have lost over a thousand undergraduates (killed and missing) and the homes of 200 lecturers were destroyed. 144 children of the lecturers are reported missing or killed.

By the end of 2005, thanks to the EI-NOVIB Programme, "Rebuilding Aceh through Education", 28 primary schools are being built; 8 schools in Kota Banda Aceh, 10 in Aceh Jaya, 8 in Bireuen and 2 in Aceh Besar. Each school will have 6 fully furnished classrooms for 40 pupils. The schools will be constructed in 3 phases, so as to maximise the use of expertise and manpower and attend to the prioritised areas first.

Under the programme, a scholarship scheme will be set up to coincide with the completion of schools. Nearly 1 million dollars will be allocated for this purpose. 3000 bank accounts will be created in the name of the recipients at the Indonesian Post Bank, which will assist in the monthly disbursement of funds for the purpose of the childrens’ schooling. Children who have lost one or both parents and children whose parents have lost their livelihood due to the tsunami will be eligible for the 2-year scholarship scheme.

EI is also an active partner of the Global Unions Tsunami Solidarity (GUTS) Project which involves the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and other Global Union Federations (GUF), to help workers affected by the disaster. One of the first positive outcomes of the GUTS is the establishment of a training centre and office space in Banda Aceh, capital of the Aceh province. The two-storey building has been provided by EI’s Indonesian affiliate PGRI, and used to house their regional headquarters.

Sri Lanka

More than 30,000 people died in the tsunami and half a million were left homeless in Sri Lanka.

According to the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka, more than 80,000 children and 3,000 teachers are displaced. 59 schools were destroyed and 123 schools were partially damaged with all school furniture and equipment destroyed. Progress has been very slow in Sri Lanka due to governmental bureaucracy.

A Sri Lanka Joint Teachers Unions' Tsunami Relief Committee was set up to combine the efforts of five EI affiliates in the country.

Under the EI-NOVIB Post-Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme, 12 schools are being built in Sri Lanka. The Districts where these are located are; Matara, Galle, Kalutara, Mullativu, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara. Some of these 12 schools will be multi-ethnic and multi-religious, like the Welihena Kanishta Vidyalaya school in the Matara district in the deep South of Sri Lanka, which provides basic education to all 3 communities - Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims. The Nilaveli school in the Trincomalee district in the East provides advanced education for Tamils (both Hindus and Christians) and Muslims. In total, the schools will provide education to over 8,000 children. EI also obtained a commitment from the Minister of Education that teachers would receive decent wages and enjoy good working conditions.

All master plans have been approved by the Ministry of Education and detailed architectural and structural plans have been submitted for final approval, after which tenders will be sought and contracts awarded.

EI-NOVIB Rehabilitation Programme

For the first time, EI and Oxfam Netherlands (NOVIB) have joined together to help teacher organisations rebuild education for teachers and children affected by the disaster.

In Sri Lanka, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the government on 25 February. EI member organisations in Sri Lanka, sponsored by EI and NOVIB, will reconstruct 12 of the 180 schools which were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami. Remarkably, the agreement includes a commitment from the Minister of Education that teachers would receive decent wages and working conditions, and that the schools that will be rebuilt will be public schools, also providing education to children who had never attended school before.

In Indonesia, an agreement was reached on 25 June 2005 with the heads of four district governments in the Aceh province to reconstruct 28 primary schools. The reconstruction process is faster in Indonesia. On 12 September 2005, the foundation stone of the SD Negeri 70 primary school was laid in Kampung Jawa, in the sub-district of Kota Banda Aceh. On 27 November 2005, construction began. The contractor has said that the school will be completed within 100 days.

School reconstruction is only one part of the EI-NOVIB Rehabilitation Programme, which also includes various schemes, such as:

- Quality training and trauma counselling for teachers
- Scholarships
- Advice centres organising housing co-operatives, obtaining finance and legal issues

Scholarhships will last 2 years, and children who have lost one or both parents and children whose parents have lost their livelihood due to the tsunami are eligible. Shelly Woyla has been appointed as an administrative assistant in charge of the Scholarship Programme.

A trauma counseling course was held successfully in Banda Aceh from 14 - 18 December 2005. 29 participants came from Aceh Besar and 30 from Banda Aceh. All are from elementary schools.

Videos

Two videos on EI's Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme in Indonesia and Sri Lanka were launched on 22 July 2007 in Berlin at the global teacher union federation's fifth World Congress. Entitled "After the Tsunami – Sri Lanka" and "After the Tsunami – Student Tour in Aceh", the videos highlight the progress and developments of the joint programme of EI and Oxfam Netherlands (NOVIB).

To view the videos, please click on the images below.

"After the Tsunami – Aceh, Indonesia"

"After the Tsunami – Sri Lanka"

Global Unions Tsunami Solidarity (GUTS) Project

The Global Unions Tsunami Solidarity (GUTS) Project is a co-ordinated effort by the Global Union Federations to attend to the immediate assistance needs of workers affected by the tsunami.

With the project office housed in Indonesia, each Global Union Federation is able to cater to the specific interests of their membership. PSI (Public Services International) is working with its affiliates in Indonesia to strengthen union capacity-building and assisting members in Aceh province. The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), for example, is working closely with the local fishing and agricultural communities. Union Network International (UNI) on the other hand is providing vocational training for local workers who have lost their livelihood due to the disaster.

By the end of 2005, vocational training for around 3,400 has been initiated. Subjects include masonry, woodwork, sewing, fishing and basic computer skills. Tool boxes have been distributed to 1000 of those who have completed vocational training.

In addition to practical skills, training has also begun in Trauma counselling, Trade Union Awareness, Organisation and Communication. Support for the establishment of a Workers’ Housing Cooperative and Transport Services Cooperative has also been offered.

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