Nepal: Education unions agree to social dialogue with local governments
After 8 months of campaigning, from 29-31 December 2022, Education International’s member organisations in Nepal – the Nepal National Teachers Association (NNTA), the Nepal Teachers Association (NTA) and the Institutional Schools' Teachers' Union (ISTU) – reached three separate agreements establishing mechanisms for social dialogue with the four Nepali local governmental authorities and the Association of local governments.
The unions and the local governments agreed to hold biannual social dialogue meetings to discuss all matters related to teachers, education and education funding.
These agreements are the fruit of a union campaign popularly known as UNITE (Union Initiative for Trade Union and Education Rights) undertaken within the Education International Asia-Pacific (EIAP) programme on “Transforming the Asia-Pacific Region: The Education Unions Leading the Agenda 2030”. This campaign was supported by Education International, the Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö (OAJ) of Finland and the Trade Union Solidarity Center of Finland (SASK).
In addition to holding biannual social dialogue with the unions, a number of other commitments were made by the local governments, such as:
• Two local governments (Itchhakamana and Thakre) committed to immediately act towards improving the quality of mid-day meals, accelerating the digitisation of schools and improving access to sanitary pads and toilets in schools – an issue directly affecting girls’ education.
• The local governments in Hetauda and and Makawanpur Gadi promised to uphold the rights of private school teachers in accordance with the Federal Education Act.
• The Association of the Local Governments agreed to continue cooperating to improve social dialogue mechanisms within all local government departments.
Crowning of longstanding union efforts
“We commend efforts made by our three Nepali affiliates since May 2022,” stressed EIAP Director Anand Singh. “They have been actively conducting consultations, developing strategies and slogans, and printing and disseminating campaign materials in different parts of the country under the UNITE campaign.”
He also recalled that many trainings and capacity building workshops were held to train more than 200 union leaders, as well as regular national forums for government representatives and press conferences mobilising the local and national media.
Singh concluded: “All these activities under the EIAP programme contributed to reaching the agreements with the local governments at the end of the year. We now wish to unions and local authorities all success in their social dialogue activities, for the good of the educators and the students in Nepal.”