Getting involved in development cooperation represents a key way for the Japan Teachers' Union to express its core values, as well as gain and retain younger members, vital to union renewal.
The Japan Teachers' Union (JTU) is committed to two types of projects, according to FumiyoFukuzawa, Deputy Director of the JTU International Affairs Department.
The JTUsupports two organisations - the Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia (PRGI)/Indonesia and the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation (MTF) - through the Education International(EI) Asia-Pacific office.
In addition, the JTU helps schools in Myanmar, for example building school facilities or supporting music education. The union is also trying to raise funds to support non-government organisations in children’s education in Afghanistan, India and Nepal.
Gender issues are an important component of JTU activities, says Fukuzawa, with the union supportgirls in India, contributing totheir empowerment and self-sufficiency.There is a special focus on “girls livingin remote villages in Nepal, because they are particularly vulnerable to discrimination”, she notes.
Reasserting JTU’s values
The JTU development cooperation work is grounded in the four JTU core values, i.e. human rights, peace, environmental awareness, and living together with others,Fukuzawa adds. “These values are universal and,as a member of a universal community, JTU would like to ensure via these activities that these values are achieved.
“We arealso particularly committed to EI’sdevelopment cooperation activities because we are currently chair of the EI Asia-Pacific Regional Committee; we take it seriously and believe it is our responsibility to support other unions in Asian countries.”
She also talks about geographical, cultural or organisational (financial management, coordination and communication) challenges in development cooperation work which partners from different countries must overcome to make their collaboration work.
Uniting all generations
The JTU is also engaged in mobilising it members, “knowing that they can make a difference in the world”, says Fukuzawa. “Being involved in EI development cooperation is also creating a new image for JTU, which we can promote to the younger members and the teachers.” Her union will continue to try and attract younger activists’ generations byshowcasing the successful Myanmar’s project on music education, in which many young JTU members are involved.
You can listen to the EI EdVoices podcast with JTU’s FumiyoFukuzawa here