Defense of union rights in Botswana
In response to the government’s clampdown on workers’ rights, the Botswana Sectors of Education Trade Unions and Education International took their fight to the global stage at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. On 14 June, its General Secretary delivered a powerful message on behalf of EI at the ILO Conference Committee on Application of Standards during the examination of the case against Botswana for violations of Convention 87.
EI engaged in a continuing project funded by ILO/ACTRAV to support education unions in Botswana and Zimbabwe to strengthen the capacity of unions to advocate labour law reform with governments and Parliaments so as to respect freedom of association and improve social dialogue for teachers.
The project also aims to strengthen the capacity of EI affiliates to work together as well as with other unions and civil society organisations in their national contexts. EI has worked with its affiliates in Southern Africa for many years to improve the application of international labour standards, especially freedom of association and collective bargaining.
National education unions’ campaign against the privatisation of education in Ghana
EI’s member organisations in Ghana, GNAT, NAGRAT and TEWU, met on 30-31 August in Accra to evaluate their national campaign plan aimed at halting and reversing the commercialisation of education.
The meeting culminated in the presentation of a communiqué to the Minister of Education expressing “deep concern regarding reports of the establishment of a new global fund for education - the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) for Africa and Middle East” - the focus of which will be on non-state actors. Given the scarcity of resources, it is deplorable that the EOF plans to transfer tax-payer funds intended for the well-being of children to private investors who seek to profit from education.
Ensuring safe schools in Kenya
In October, EI joined the call of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) on the Kenyan authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the security and safety of all education workers and school communities in Kenya, particularly in the areas affected by conflict and violence. KNUT reported the killing of two non-local teachers by militants of the Islamist terror group Al-Shabaab in Mandera. It has also deplored on several occasions the failure of authorities to appropriately address the violence affecting non-Muslim teachers in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa counties. The escalating insecurity is disrupting learning and teaching, and is causing a shortage of teachers in the affected areas. Teachers are demotivated and demoralised, which in turn affects teaching quality. EI called on the Government to endorse the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.
Workshop on fighting child labour in Ghana
Education union representatives from seven African countries took part in an EI workshop from 23-25 October 2018 in Accra, Ghana, to develop a two-year programme aimed at strengthening local forms of social dialogue to eradicate child labour. The workshop also provided project management skills. Participants jointly developed a proposal on the development in 2019-2020 of child labour free zones in their respective countries.
1st EI regional seminar for young and early stage education unionists in Côte d’Ivoire
The first Education International regional seminar for young and early stage education unionists, held on 4 November 2018 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, has clearly shown young African education unionists’ commitment to not only increase their involvement in their unions, but also support education policies that promote quality education for all in the region.
The objectives of the seminar were to:
- create a space for young and early career stage teacher unionists to network with their peers in EI member organisations in the region;
- deepen participants’ understanding of global and regional education policy environments, including the link to and impact on national level advocacy and campaigning by education unions;
- allow participants to identify and develop strategies to increase the involvement of young and early stage members in their unions; and
- enhance participation in union decision-making and leadership structures.
As the result of the seminar, participants have drafted and delivered a communique to the EI Africa Regional Conference. The communique, which contains recommendations to their unions and to EI at the regional and global levels, aims to increase young members’ participation in all union structures, especially in decision-making and union leadership.
9th EI Africa Regional Conference
About 400 delegates, observers and invited guests from 42 countries, including Europe and America, gathered in Grand Bassam, Cote d'Ivoire, from 6-9 November for the 9th EI Africa Regional Conference. Among major issues discussed were the role of education sector unions in the realisation of Education Agenda 2030, trade union unity, the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education, the renewal of EI Africa Regional Committee, and the adoption of diverse resolutions and recommendations.
WAWEN meeting in Burkina Faso
The francophone sub-group of the West African Women in Education Network (WAWEN) held a gender training and sensitisation meeting from 12-14 December 2018 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Participants discussed gender equality issues in unions and education, and shared experience in gender mainstreaming.
They focused on topics such aswomens’ leadership, trade union unity, school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) and lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) people’s issues. The findings and recommendations of the Africa Women in Education Network’s (AWEN) 10-year evaluation were also debated, and strategies to make the future work of the network more visible and more efficient were identified.
Teachers' Unions Take Action to stop SRGBV meeting in Sierra Leone
In the framework of the EI/UNGEI joint initiative “Teachers' Unions Take Action to stop SRGBV”, 15 change team members from EIRAF, the Gambia Teachers' Union and the Sierra Leone Teachers' Union met in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from 20- 24 November 2018, to share experience on their respective work to stop SRGBV, and discuss what it will take for teacher unions, together with communities and partners, to effectively address this scourge.