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Congo: education workers reaffirm their desire to make their union strong and sustainable

World Teachers’ Day provided an opportunity for education unionists in the Republic of Congo to highlight the key role the teaching profession plays in achieving each individual’s potential and the need for a union with strong management that is taken seriously by the public authorities and is able to collaborate with other education unions at the national and international levels.

 

World Teachers’ Day

On 5 October, the Fédération des Travailleurs de la Science, des Sports, de l'Enseignement, de l'Information et de la Culture (FETRASSEIC) celebrated World Teachers’ Day (WTD) in Dolisie, in the department of Niari. A march by members of the Dolisie FETRASSEIC was held on the morning before.

Twelve members of FETRASSEIC’s national office as well as representatives of the departmental authorities attended this celebration, which was financially supported by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Literacy and by Education International (EI), and broadcast on national television and radio. The joint statement made by UNESCO/ILO/UNICEF/UNDP/EI on WTD was read out.

In his statement for WTD, Basile Ngoli, FETRASSEIC’s national General Secretary, highlighted that this day is an opportunity to celebrate the teaching profession, take stock of what’s been achieved so far and have a closer look at the issues that are key to attracting the best minds and the best young talent to the profession.

He emphasized that “teachers open the doors to a better world. Without teachers, education would not fulfil the role it’s been given because teaching is about more than ensuring a pupil learns a series of facts and figures; it is also about inspiring and releasing a child’s potential while offering them new perspectives. Ultimately, teaching is helping children realise their dreams of a better world.”

Ngoli also pointed out that qualified teachers help children, young people and adults become citizens who are critical, responsible and able to interact with the world around them, by awakening their capacity for dialogue and their sense of trust in themselves and towards others. “Consequently, they are the pillars of education.”

 

Unions back to work for the 2019-2020 school year

Basile Ngoli also highlighted the fact that the 5th October has also been the date chosen by FETRASSEIC since 2012 for the annual recommencement of union work. The theme for the 2019-2020 return to work is: “The strengthening, at all levels, of the managerial capabilities of FETRASSEIC’s union leaders and executives.”

According to Ngoli “FETRASSEIC is always alert and believes it is becoming urgent to attract new blood with the organising skills and training required to further boost the trade union movement in fighting for new rights and safeguarding the established rights workers have already won.”

He continued by expressing regret that this return to work is taking place against the backdrop of a national financial crisis, which has seriously affected the implementation of FETRASSEIC’s 2018-2019 road map, resulting in the cancellation of a number of union activities. The union has nevertheless been able to focus its activities on defending the established rights of its members and strengthening the capacities of trade union leaders.

For the 2019-2020 financial year, other than strengthening leaders' capacities at all levels and increasing female union membership, FETRASSEIC plans to continue fighting for those demands for which solutions have yet to be found, in particular:

  • The effective implementation of the order granting education workers bonuses and allowances;
  • Harmonisation of the documents relating to the integration of active staff;
  • Lifting the block on the payment of teachers’ salary arrears; and
  • Restoring the suspended salaries of reinstated teachers.

 

To this effect, FETRASSEIC is asking the Government to remain open to dialogue with social partners to resolve these issues that are still outstanding. Ngoli explained that “the crisis cannot always be used as a pretext for not wanting to resolve workers’ legitimate claims.”

He was also delighted to discuss the organisation’s success in international cooperation, the good ongoing collaborative relationship between his union and Education International, the Francophone Union Committee on Education and Training and the unions of other African countries.

At the national level, he praised the good relationship between FETRASSEIC and the other unions working in the national education sector – FETRASSEIC holding the presidency of the union platform currently negotiating with the Government.

He concluded with a solemn declaration: “No to the privatisation and commercialisation of education envisaged by international interests. Long live trade union unity! Long live World Teachers’ Day! Long live the recommencement of union work for 2019-2020!”