Welcomed decision countering education privatisation in Kenya
On 17 February, a Kenyan court upheld the Busia County Education Board’s 2014 decision to close Bridge International Academies’ schools for failing to comply with educational standards. The board had cited Bridge’s failure to employ trained and registered teachers and its inadequate facilities as the reason for its decision. The county has been instructed to secure places for students currently enrolled in Bridge schools in neighbouring public schools. Bridge has announced it will appeal the decision.
TTU-PATC-AEU-EI Book Launch in Tanzania
The Pan African Teachers’ Centre (PATC)/EI Africa regional office (EIRAF) participated in the book launch programme at the Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) head office on 27 February in Dar es Salaam. Seventeen resource books were launched, all written by classroom teachers and education and curriculum experts from Tanzania. The initiative was coordinated by PATC, with financial support from the Australian Education Union (AEU) and technical support from the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF).
PATC Executive Director Peter Mabande and Richard Etonu represented EI at the book launch.
Capacity building workshop in Tanzania
From 28-29 February, TTU leaders attended a capacity building workshop in Dar es Salaam. They learned about the 1966 Recommendation on the status of teachers, the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and the EI Human and Trade Union Rights Policy Paper. The leadership identified possible policy directions for the TTU concerning the status of teachers, their rights, and the role of the union in promoting the SDGs, especially SDG 4.
Richard Etonu represented EI.
“Out of Work and Into School” project in Mali
The “Out of Work and Into School” project in Mali was assessed by an EI mission from 4-10 March. Using the EI manual to learn how to speak about child labour and engage with parents and local communities, 474 teachers and headmasters were trained by the Syndicat national de l'éducation et de la culture(SNEC). Forty-two anti-child labour clubs are operational in schools, co-animated by focal point teachers and students. Associations of students’ mothers and monitoring committees at village level have also been created by SNEC in the seven regions involved in this initiative.
Thanks to this projectimplemented by SNEC, over 8,000 children have been rescued from child labour and prevented from dropping out of schools, dropout rates have significantly decreased in the schools and students’ learning results have improved. The SNEC has also successfully lobbied for the integration of the fight against child labour in school curricula.
Samuel Grumiau supervised the project for EI.
SLTU-MEST-PATC-AEU-CTF-EI book writers’ workshop in Sierra Leone
From 6-15 March, the PATC/EIRAF, with financial and technical support from AEU and EI, conducted a book development workshop for members of the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union (SLTU), in Freetown. Two local SLTU facilitators and PATC/EIRAF’s Peter Mabande and CTF’s Carla Pieterson conducted planning meetings for the workshop with SLTU leaders from 3-4 March. The Minister of Education, Science and Training (MEST) supported the project and thanked EI for contributing to the promotion of literacy in Sierra Leone.
Thirty-one book manuscripts were produced, with 20 chosen by the facilitators to be edited, proofread, and illustrated in Ghana. Additional books will be printed in Sierra Leone in the framework of the literacy promotion programme for enhancing achievement of quality public education in this country.
Workshop on indigenous peoples’ Right to Education in Kenya
The EIRAF, in conjunction with EI’s affiliates in Kenya, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEHIA), and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), organised a capacity building workshop from 7-8 March in Kitengel, County of Kajido.
During the workshop, attendees developed a specific understanding of the need to encourage teachers (and students) from minority groups to familiarise themselves with the ILO Convention No. 169 on overcoming discrimination against indigenous peoples. They also committed to developing policies and strategies intended to promote and protect the rights of indigenous people to quality education. And attendees defined mechanisms to enable indigenous peoples’ full and effective participation in union life and activities.
Legal action against teacher union leader in Kenya
On 8 March, lawyers representing the for-profit school operator, Bridge International Academies, threatened to take legal action against KNUT General Secretary Wilson Sossion. The move is in response to Sossion’s continued efforts to expose Bridge’s actions. As research in both Kenya and Uganda shows, Bridge’s business plan undermines the attainment of inclusive and equitable quality education for all.On 15 March, KNUT responded stating that it has no intention “to stop or not continue the publication of reports and stories … by any media house or any person as such events and information are justified and fair comment” about Bridge. The for-profit education company has since commenced legal proceedings against KNUT and its General Secretary, and as a result, a court has issued an injunction prohibiting KNUT and Sossion from making statements regarding Bridge.
Programme against child labour in Uganda
From 20-24 March, Dominique Marlet and Samuel Grumiau led an EI mission in Kampala. They discovered that a sensitisation programme around child labour by the Uganda National Teachers' Union (UNATU) has proved effective, leading to a substantial increase in the enrolment and retention of students. The UNATU programme against child labour in Erussi, close to the Congo border and a nine-hour drive from Kampala, and in the second poorest district in Uganda, has changed the mindsets of parents and teachers towards education and child labour. After three years, teachers in 11 public schools have been trained, school leaders hold daily registries of school attendance, schools have been equipped with sports and art equipment, parents have joined income savings initiatives (to cover school costs), income generating activities have been launched in some villages, and school clubs reach out to children not in school.
This UNATU programme belongs to the “child labour free zones” project, promoted by EI with the support of Dutch funding provided by the Stop Child Labour Coalition and FNV Mondiaal. The project aims to support education unions in training school leaders and teachers; raise awareness amongst local political leaders, community and religious chiefs, parents and education stakeholders; and advocate to source additional funding for education.
Development cooperation meeting in Malawi
The Private Schools and Education workers Union of Malawi (PSEUM) and the Swedish union, Lärarförbundet, held a review and planning meeting from 23-27 March. The Malawian union has increased membership recruitment and retention, along with media exposure and presence in schools. PSEUM’s advocacy has led to a willingness by school managers to allow PSEUM union leaders to access their schools.
In addition, PSEUM has succeeded in getting private school teachers included in the government’s in-service training programmes. An agreement signed for the 2017-20 period details that Lärarförbundet will further assist PSEUM with membership growth, leadership training and communication.
Richard Etonu represented EI at the meeting.
Education union leaders released in Djibouti
On 27 March, the Syndicat des Enseignants du Premier Degré (SEP) General Secretary, Ahmed-Kadar Nour, and the SEP Deputy General Secretary, Omar Ali Ewado, were released from prison, much to the relief of EI and the global education community. The two men had been arrested on 19-20 March by the Djibouti Security Services, as part of ongoing harassment and repression of teachers and trade unionists seeking to exercise their legitimate rights and freedoms in Djibouti.
The release followed global activity calling for the men’s release. On 21 March, EI issued a protest letter supporting its Djibouti colleagues and launched a campaign on LabourStart to free the education trade unionists. EI also issued an appeal for solidarity with Turkish teachers and the SEP sent a letter to the President of Turkey supporting persecuted Turkish teachers. On receiving the letter, the Turkish embassy had complained to the Djibouti Government. On his release, Nour thanked EI and its affiliates for their support and stressed that this SEP letter of solidarity was the main reason behind their imprisonment.
Project evaluation meeting in Zimbabwe
From 29-31 March, the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) and Lärarförbundet from Swedencompleted their cooperation agreement, which had been in place since 1985. The meeting centred on an evaluation of the “Reconstruction, Retention and Recruitment” project, which started in 2009, after the union almost collapsed due to the economic crisis.
The project rescued the trade union, whose membership grew from 32,000 to 45,000, and almost all union structures have been revitalised. In 2016, ZIMTA contributed 83 per cent of the project funding, and is contributing 100 per cent of the project funding in 2017.
Richard Etonu represented EI at the meeting.