Development Cooperation: a solid approach to unions’ needs linked to the COVID-19 crisis

published 20 May 2020 updated 17 June 2020

The first online meeting of Education International’s Development Cooperation Network let partners come together to meet the needs of the teaching unions badly affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

A virtual meeting, a first success

On 12 May, some thirty participants from 23 unions and 16 countries took part in the first extraordinary virtual meeting of Education International’s Development Cooperation Network.

This was a concrete manifestation of the network. The meeting was conceived as an interactive event, with half of the time available for participant contributions.

It began with a presentation of the situations in the different regions: Africa, Asia, the Arab Countries Cross-Regional Structure, Latin America and The Caribbean (Caribbean Union of Teachers).

These presentations made it possible to identify the following recurring problems linked to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • The situation of teachers: workload and well-being, pressures on working conditions, salaries, especially for teachers in insecure jobs and those working in the private sector.
  • The situation of students: growing inequalities between males and females, rich and poor and between urban and remote areas.
  • The privatisation of the education system: different forms of privatisation, some being free…for the moment.
  • The pressure on education budgets due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
  • Communication problems within unions and difficulties in keeping in touch with members.
  • The absence of social dialogue with the unions.
  • The pressures on human rights.

Operational focus of the Development Cooperation Network

The participants described the current state of cooperation programmes. The majority of such programmes have stopped. Development cooperation partners are ready to consider the needs of their partners and to revise action plans.

They have agreed to assist unions in difficulty, either by contributing to Education International’s Solidarity Fund or by adapting ongoing or already planned projects and redistributing their assistance according to the needs of the partner unions.

These needs can range from organising campaigns to designing, printing and distributing leaflets, to providing computers or helping organise union training.

Haldis Holst, Deputy General Secretary of Education International, summed up Education International’s development cooperation activities, emphasising “the solidarity at the heart of Education International’s values”.

She argued that the COVID-19 health crisis, which is affecting every country in the world simultaneously, is “an opportunity to show active solidarity between members and to learn from each other. It is also an opportunity to reflect even more actively on new ways of working together”.

Holst indicated that Education International will coordinate this solidarity, highlighting the fact that “a big step has already been taken in the realisation and operational focus of the Development Cooperation Network”. Other meetings like this will be organised in the future.

Appeal to contribute to the ‘COVID Response’ Solidarity Fund

Education International is calling on its member organisations to continue contributing to the ‘COVID Response Solidarity Fund. The sums collected since the urgent call to action of 17 April will be used to meet the urgent needs of members experiencing significant difficulties due to the crisis.

A new mechanism is going to be put in place at this time. Education International and all member unions of the Development Cooperation Network will stay in close contact in order to collectively respond to requests from those unions in difficulty.

Education International will shortly be sending a form to its members so they can make their needs known. They will receive help based on these needs.