Education unions face new development cooperation challenges
With development cooperation facing new funding challenges, education unions are being forced to redefine a strategy based on self-funded initiatives, while continuing to push for increased financial commitments from governments.
 
When the development cooperation (DC) network of Education International (EI) met from 13-15 January in Brussels, it did so with the aim of defining and addressing new challenges ahead. Based on the resolutions and the EI rights policy paper adopted during the last World Congress in Ottawa, Canada, in July 2015, the members of EI’s development cooperation network discussed how union capacity can still provide for effective development cooperation programmes, given the present political and economic post-crisis context with the overall reduction in the allocation of funds by governments as the main consequence.
 
The three days of discussions also included two other highlights, notably the evaluation of the Latin American Women’s network and a debate on how union capacity building can strengthen EI’s Global Response to the Privatisation and Commercialisation in and of Education Campaign. Evaluation of the Latin American Women’s network Ten years after its establishment, the Latin American Women’s network has produced some major achievements, according to an external evaluation led by both the EI regional office and the Swedish union Lärarforbundet. These achievements have yielded the strongest results in the establishment of national and trans-national union structures related to gender and gender equity, which were practically non-existent a decade ago.
 
Although many challenges remain, the network is playing a crucial role in the empowerment of female education union leaders and delegates throughout the continent, such as allowing more women to take part in international and regional seminars. Global Response from a development perspective Another major focus of the DC meeting’s involved the creation of a coordinated strategy to counter the commercialisation and privatisation of education, as posited by EI’s Global Response campaign. Participants engaged in an active discussion around the possible implementation of legislative frameworks that ensure quality free education for all–?an action that needs both determination by governments in complying with their obligations and union strength to engage in effective advocacy.
 
The legislative framework approach of the campaign aims at implementing an anti-for-profit legislation on a national level which will hamper non-state actors from receiving government funding intended for the educational well-being of students. The law should protect the principle of access and equity for all students through the provision of public education, while recognising the professional judgement of teachers and respecting their professional institutions, including unions.
 
Photo: Education International
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