Burkina Faso: united education union front for a better teacher status
For the first time in three years, Burkina Faso's education trade unions have called a strike in order to obtain better living and working conditions for teachers and help achieve quality education.
The government must guarantee free and quality public education for all
From kindergarten to higher education, through primary and secondary education, administrative workers, inspectors and the non-formal education sector, almost all education trade unions have joined together to coordinate two days of general strikes in the education sector, throughout the country, on 26 and 27 October.
The platform of demands comprises four points: adoption of a decent status; improvement of access to education; improvement of working conditions; and enhancement of the teaching profession.
In Burkina Faso, indicators on enrolment rates, numbers of students per class, and graduation rates remain worrying. Not to mention teachers' wages, which are not particularly attractive at 100,000 Francs CFA (150 Euros) for a primary school teacher, and 165,000 Francs CFA (250 Euros) for a secondary school teacher.
For the trade unions, including Education International's affiliates, i.e. the Fédération des Syndicats de l’Enseignement du Burkina, the Fédération des Syndicats Nationaux des Travailleurs de l'Education et de la Recherche, the Syndicat national des enseignants africains du Burkina and the Syndicat national des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur, it is time for the State to make a commitment towards ensuring free and quality public education for all children.
By failing to do so, the national government has already let the private sector take a major place in the sector: 20 percent in primary education, 80 percent in pre-primary and vocational education, and 50 percent in secondary education. Additionally, teachers working in such private establishments who attempt to claim their rights risk immediate dismissal, according to the coordinating body of the 15 unions.
Union coordination for maximum mobilisation
The union coordinating body has planned to approach parents' associations in order to explain the reasons for the strike and obtain their support. Support from the central labour bodies seems to have been obtained. A media communication plan has been established.
The unions are also conducting in-depth work on each of the advocacy platform's points, in order to provide robust counter-arguments to the Minister's statements.
The coordinating body has developed a deployment plan for the mobilisation in the country's 45 regions. It has also given itself the means to very accurately assess the strike's effectiveness, through a census of the strikers in each school, and by collecting all of the relevant information.
Over the past years, the unions have achieved significant results through their collective struggles: integration of contract teachers and signing of an agreement with the national union of principals of private secular education. Through a massive mobilisation on 26 and 27 October, they intend to score more points for Burkina Faso's teachers and education system.