In the wake of tropical cyclone Batsirai which hit Madagascar on 5 February, the Fédération chrétienne des enseignants et employés de l’éducation de Madagascar (FEKRIMPAMA) has spared no effort to pass on the financial solidarity aid provided by Education International and its member organisations, responding to the most urgent needs of its members and students in the affected regions of the South of the island.
Reaching out to affected educational communities
"We managed to get in touch with them. We have maintained contact with current members and with some school administrators, such as school headmasters," explained FEKRIMPAMA's Secretary General, Constant Andrianatrehy Marolaza.
While his union has no contact with other organisations, mayors in some rural municipalities, as well as the head of the district and the head of the school district in the affected regions, are communicating with FEKRIMPAMA and providing information. The priority needs of teachers were identified based on information from local authorities.
“I have visited some regions and from what I have seen, the damage is heavy and almost the same everywhere," said Mr. Andrianatrehy Marolaza. "We have made a call for partnership and collaboration in places where events, such as the Batsirai and Emnati cyclones, have affected our members. Organisations such as Education International have responded directly to the appeal we have made. International organisations, such as the UN World Food Programme, UNICEF and the NGO Tanintsika, are also bringing direct aid to the affected areas.”
The FEKRIMPAMA General Secretary also acknowledged that “our action plan has been able to specifically help people with their food and equipment needs and also with the updating of their administrative records.”
Support for teacher trade unionists
When asked about the support given to the affected teachers, Mr. Andrianatrehy Marolazaa mentioned the moral and psychological support given to the educators “to help them get back on their feet and continue exercising their profession, in addition to the financial aid" granted thanks to the solidarity of the global education trade union community.
He emphasised that “this gave them a lot of courage to carry on with their profession and their respective tasks, because the true friend is the one who provides support in a difficult moment like the one that they experienced”.
Assessment of the support operation for Malagasy educators
As for the lessons learned about the union's management of such an emergency situation, he highlighted the fact that, “sometimes in a similar situation, the state response to emergencies comes late. To date, many schools have not yet been rehabilitated. This action to help the affected teachers has given us the opportunity and the courage to support our comrades.”
He also welcomed the fact that this activity represented a great opportunity for FEKRIMPAMA to strengthen their foundations and to carry out a massive recruitment effort in the regions visited or assisted.
For FEKRIMPAMA, training on trade union organisation, the use of new technologies to facilitate rapid communication, and trade union and professional rights is needed. “We are counting on collaboration with colleagues around the world to carry out those priorities,” concluded Mr. Andrianatrehy Marolaza.