Education unions determine priorities to better answer the needs of cooperating unions

published 21 January 2019 updated 22 January 2019

Education union representatives discussed development cooperation priorities and ways to better cater to the needs of receiving and donor partners alike.

Education International (EI) presented and discussed with teacher union representatives the results of a survey of affiliates on priorities and financing of solidarity and development cooperation (DC) policies. Increasing the number of members, social dialogue, trade union renewal and young leaders, were among the priorities of those who responded to the survey.

It appeared, however that the themes of DC projects do not necessarily correspond to the priorities and needs of affiliates.

All affiliates can provide support to others

The main goal of the discussion on the survey was to think about ways to better support all affiliates that need it.

All member organisations, in the framework of development cooperation, can help others,

participants agreed. This can be done via financial aid, or by exchange of experience.

As Yamile Socolovsky from CONADU/Argentina put it, “our biggest challenge in Latin America is to remember that unions that receive help should also give something in return, some kind of help and exchange. Often trade unions think of EI as an organisation that gives, not as an organisation they must give something to. Development cooperation must be a two-way street and we should always keep that in mind.”

The challenge is then to find a better balance between donors and receivers, stressed the EI DC team.

Need for conceptual rethinking of DC activities

Robert Gustafsson from Lärarförbundet/Sweden insisted on the importance of adopting a new conceptual framework, a model where positive changes can be observed on both sides, making the diverse partners stronger.

Participants also highlighted that project partners in the same country should be aware of the context, and not spread but gather forces to implement projects, and that receiving unions need to quickly have “ownership”of the DC project.

“In Africa,”stressed EI Africa regional office’s Assibi Napoe, “unions in need of help sometimes do not engage in DC activities because donors want to see outcomes, have ways to assess their needs, but sometimes the results are hard to get to, the education union being too weak and not able to follow DC processes”.

The EI DC team concluded the session by explaining that the discussions brought to light the need to rethink the goals of DC and consider the viability of DC projects. While there is certainly room for improvement, and EI regional offices have key roles to play in that regard, the teamwill turn these discussions into concrete proposals for participants and their unions.