Last April, EI started a process to build trade unions’ capacity to analyse and develop policy and to engage in social dialogue in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda.
The initiative aims to improve teacher policies, in particular those related to teacher recruitment, training, career development and attractiveness of the profession, thus delivering on the commitments of the Education 2030 agenda to increase the supply of qualified teachers through international cooperation.
The initiative is built around the conviction that an improved planning process anchored in an inclusive policy dialogue is fundamental to improving the quality of education. EI, as the leading partner on teacher issues and social dialogue, has started a participatory process to engage member organizations in a review of existing Education Sector Plans, aiming to identify examples of policies that could be reinforced, those that need fine-tuning as well as areas that were neglected and may be the subject of policy proposals developed by education sector workers.
The workshop organized in Accra, Ghana, brought together representatives from the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (TEWU), who expressed concern with the limited progress achieved in the implementation of the Education Strategic Plan 2010-2020, in particular with regards to access to basic education.
According to Ghanaian education sector unions, free access to quality education remains elusive and fee-paying schools are filling the void left by public schools in deprived areas. With funds from the Global Partnership for Education, a new sector plan for the period 2018-2030 is being developed and the unions are worried that they have not thus far been meaningfully involved and agreed to take decisive joint steps to ensure the new plan responds to the need of Ghanaian students.
For Jennifer Ulrick, EI consultant supporting the process, “ it was positive to see such commitment from all of the unions to work together collaboratively to achieve better social and policy dialogue in Ghana”. In Burkina Faso, the workshop brought together not only the four EI member organizations - Fédération des Syndicats de l’Enseignement du Burkina (FESEB), Fédération des Syndicats Nationaux des Travailleurs de l'Education et de la Recherche (F-SYNTER), Syndicat National des Enseignants Africains du Burkina (SNEAB), Syndicat National des Enseignants du Secondaire et du Supérieur (SNESS) – but also eleven other education sector unions, thus reinforcing collaboration and unity.
While participants recognized efforts have been made to increase the availability of trained teachers in key cities, equity remains elusive as access to quality education across the country is limited and the infrastructure remains largely inadequate. The absence of teaching aides and the insufficient offer of pedagogical support are key issues that the Burkinabe unions have agreed to tackle together in the coming months.
According to Jefferson Pessi, EI coordinator responsible for the initiative, “ we will pursue our vision of institutionalized policy and social dialogue that is led by education sector workers and that delivers policies that respond to national needs, instead of a foreign imposed agenda. Building capacity for policy and social dialogue is a priority for EI”. The initiative will continue to support Ghanaian and Burkinabe unions as they implement their planned actions and EI will carry out similar workshops in Malawi and Uganda.
This is part of EI’s contribution to a newly-launched initiative by the governments of the aforementioned countries, the Kingdom of Norway, UNESCO, ILO, UNICEF, UNHCR, the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education.
The initiative was well received and considered timely by the participating unions, who expressed their commitment to ensuring workers’ leadership in policy development. EI will continue to engage education sector workers on policy analysis and development for the next twelve months.