EI Africa Regional Committee meets to address challenges in the region
The Education International Africa Regional Committee (EIARC) is holding a virtual meeting from 23-25 February 2021 to review progress and map the way forward for the region.
EI member organisations in the region have faced a lot of challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to restrictions on union activities due to lockdowns, school closures, workers layoffs, sickness and death.
In her opening remarks, EI President, Susan Hopgood, observed that not only has Africa been seriously hit considering the long school closures because of COVID-19, but also the upsurge in terrorist attacks and the impact of climate change, resulting in floods and long periods of drought. She however added that this EIARC meeting comes at a difficult but opportune time.
“It is time for us to put more pressure on African and all governments to address the long-standing problems affecting the education sector. Educators need continuous professional development, decent salaries and working conditions, trust and support. We can work together to build resilience amongst the members we serve and to call for more responsive and stronger education systems”.
The EI Africa Regional Committee Chairperson, Christian Addai-Poku, said that in spite of these challenges, the new decade offers the opportunity to accelerate the achievement of continental education goals and SDG4 so that the children of Africa gain inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.
He reiterated the need to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in the region and urged governments to consult teachers and education support personnel (ESP) through their representative organisations to ensure that teachers and students are well equipped with personal protective equipment (PPEs), face masks, water, soap, and hand sanitizer to keep them safe.
The EI General Secretary, David Edwards, also decried the negative impact on EI work as we strive to lead the education sector workers in ensuring that governments remain committed to the provision of quality education.
“Last year alone, we witnessed loss of life, massive job losses and inevitable sector personnel displacement. With the faltering economies we can almost expect increased labour unrests as salaries get reduced or their payment delayed”.
He however said that EI had a strategic plan that gives a road map to safeguard the rights of every child to quality education by ensuring that governments invest in education at all levels, including infrastructure and give attention to highly trained and motivated teaching personnel.
“Through the four strategic directions we can challenge governments to remain accountable and our members will be encouraged to continue promoting and practicing high standards of professionalism and ethics. Through union renewal and growth, we hope to build stronger organizations that can withstand the unpredictable times we are witnessing today”.
Christian Addai-Poku concluded that the decisions made during the meeting will help respond better to the needs of the educators and students as the region prepares for the next EI Africa Regional Conference in 2022.