Leaders of EI member organisations in the Pacific met on 6-7 August 2018 in Nadi, Fiji, to take stock of the commercialisation and privatisation of education across their region. They shared their national experiences and developed a deeper understanding of EI’s Global Response. A research project will be commissioned to inform the development of national campaign plans necessary to confront the threats posed by commercialisation and privatisation in education in the sub-region.
Workshops on the theme, “Teachers Unions for Inclusion: Embracing Diversity and Promoting Safe Schools were organised for education union leaders from 23-24 October 2018 in the Philippines, from 24-25 November 2018 in Nepal and from 3-4 December 2018 in Suva, Fiji. The workshops are part of the EI-UNESCO Project entitled “Teachers Unions for Inclusion: Embracing Diversity and Promoting safe schools”, supported by the UN Development Programme through its “Being LGBTI In Asia and Pacific” Programme.
The workshops discussed LGBTI rights, challenges faced by LGBTI students and educators and the role of teacher unions in promoting LGBTI Rights and safe schools. Participants also discussed the need to increase awareness on LGBTI issues, especially in relation to national policies and legislation. The workshops further highlighted the need to develop mechanisms to review the existing education methods and educational materials to promote inclusive education.
Defense of union rights in the Philippines
In November, EI condemned the illegal arrest and detention of the members of a solidarity mission with Lumad schools in the municipality of Talaingod, in Davao del Norte. The solidarity mission was composed of over 70 teachers, students, human rights defenders and other volunteers, including France Castro, a member of Parliament and former ACT General Secretary. The mission convoy was attacked on 28 November by members of a paramilitary group known as Alamara. The police did not protect the members of the convoy against this attack, but instead detained them on trumped up charges of human trafficking and child abuse. The aim of the solidarity mission was to give support to students and teachers of Lumad schools in the Talaingod municipality, who have been the target of harassment by military and paramilitary forces for weeks. Some schools have been forcibly closed by the 56th Infantry Battalion of the army. EI called on the Government to endorse the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, and to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities from attacks or any other action that may interfere with the right to education.