Asia-Pacific: Education unions step up their work with new Development Cooperation Handbook

published 10 November 2021 updated 18 January 2022

The Education International’s Development Cooperation Handbook – A guide to successful partnerships is a new tool for development cooperation, a step-by-step guide to development cooperation projects for education unions. It was introduced to member organisations during the online Asia-Pacific workshop on Development Cooperation, a meeting hosted by Education International’s Asia-Pacific (EIAP) regional office and Education International’s Capacity Building and Solidarity Unit.

The workshop, held on 29 October 2021, brought together thirty participants from 8 different countries, all practitioners in development cooperation from Asia-Pacific, who learnt how to improve their practice in solidarity projects.

Participants were invited to analyse the handbook.

Ultimate goal: Strengthening education unions

The handbook, focuses on different aspects of a development cooperation project cycle and highlights common pitfalls – with the aim to help practitioners craft more effective projects that will ultimately strengthen education unions.

The content is divided into two main parts:

  1. A description of the practice of development cooperation (its principles, purpose and stakeholders).
  2. A step-by-step guide to development cooperation projects (from the planning phase to evaluation).

Readers will find practical examples, quotes and graphics to support the explanations, which are specifically targeting education trade unionists.

From theory to practice

The workshop linked theory and practice by inviting participants to focus on how they would use the handbook in their work on cooperation projects. Three breakout groups covered the following issues: what parts worked best for the readers, what could be improved in future editions and how participants would use recommendations in future projects. Joseph Jovellanos (National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers, Philippines) remarked: “The handbook mentions the need to take into account the context in a cooperation partnership. This is indeed fundamental at all stages. For example, when evaluating a project, you have to take into account the reasons why the project did not work exactly as planned. This may be due to unforeseen changes in the political and social context. Analysing this then helps to adjust the next phase of the project.”

Nisha Cairae (All India Primary Teachers' Federation) explained: “The guide addresses the issue of the beginning and end of a cooperation project. My organisation has had a cooperation programme for about 20 years. But, as such a long-lasting programme risks creating dependency, I think it is better to organise cooperation projects for a shorter period of time.”

For Astrid Thomassen (Union of Education Norway), “an Education International’s document will facilitate exchanges between cooperation partners and allow discussions to take place on an equal footing”.

Next steps

The Handbook is being designed as a living document; further editions will incorporate feedback from Education International member organisations on their use of tools provided in this guide.

“As development cooperation is a dynamic and political activity, practice may be altered, but the essential principles of cooperation work as they are captured in the handbook will, most likely, remain relevant for a long time,” according to EIAP Director Anand Singh.