Education International
Education International

African educators united for diversity in education

published 25 November 2015 updated 26 November 2015

Leaders of education unions in francophone West Africa discussed a rights-based approach to inclusive education, particularly of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people.

Under the auspices of the Education International (EI) Africa Region, 19 union leaders and members of the Fédération des Syndicats de l'Education Nationale and the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats de l’Education du Togo gathered on 11-13 November in Lomé, Togo, for a sub-regional workshop on inclusive education, entitled “United for a quality education in diversity”.

After reviewing cases of exclusion suffered by certain groups, particularly those affected by discrimination, homophobia and  stigmatisation in relation to education at national level, participants exchanged information on the status and rights of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) peoples, and shared testimonies about the common realities in their countries.

In the round table discussions participants developed their understanding of LGBTI issues. They recognised that they are not a new and imported phenomenon, but rather a reality of all times and places that needs to be defined and discussed.

Participants acknowledged the existence of different minorities to be protected. They have, however, noted that people with different sexual orientations, than the majority, are constantly under attack and suffer violation of their human rights.

The sessions were guided by the various EI Congress resolutions, as well as the EI policy on non-discrimination in accessing quality education; human rights standards and the examination of the legal situation regarding the rights of LGBTI people in West Africa; the impact of cultural and sexual diversity in achieving the sustainable development goal 4, “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”; and the roles and responsibilities of education organisations to ensure equality and non-discrimination in the education sector.

At the end of the three-day workshop, the participants made recommendations and developed action plans for training, information and advocacy on the right to inclusive education for all, without exclusions. They agreed, in particular, to ensure that, once back in their own country, their trade unions will:

- Increase efforts to make inclusive quality education in diversity a reality;

- Contribute to expand the scope of inclusion by helping teachers to become more effective at responding to the needs of LGBTI people; and

- Work to improve teaching practices that value respect and diversity and remove barriers such as prejudice and violence.

Participants also recommended that EI raise the awareness and skills of trade union to develop action plans promoting respect for all, including LGBTI people, by mobilising the necessary support to member organisations.