Virtual Platforms Can Empower Unions
The second day of the EI Africa Regional Committee training on the use of virtual platforms was very revealing. Covid-19 drove unions into venturing on virtual platforms.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) was able to use Zoom to fulfil their mandate of consulting the membership on salary negotiations with the Government. They were able to engage branches and to collect the views of their members using the platform.
The Zoom platform, the webinar learnt, could be used for activism. “Digital tools give you an even louder voice for activism”, Nafula Wafula the facilitator advised while sharing her own experience in combatting police brutality in Kenya.
While Covid-19 separated unions physically, it gave room for more effective mobilisation. Teachers and their unions can maintain teaching, share information quickly and easily, function in more orderly ways, increase transparency, lower bureaucracy, and collect dues were some of the good outcomes of the digital technology shared.
“Technology can also empower our unions to organise, mobilise and deliver better services to members”, EI Africa Regional Director Dr Dennis Sinyolo observed, adding that the training will help EIARC not just to attend meetings, but also to plan, convene and facilitate meetings using Zoom and other online platforms.
He recalled the Webinar organised by EIRAF on SDG4 and CESA on Thursday 27 May in which EI Africa’s Framework on Hybrid and Remote Teaching and Learning was launched. It reaffirmed the indispensability of in-person, in-school learning, and that of the teacher, but at the same time called on governments to train teachers so that they can deliver hybrid and distance education. This would certainly place the teachers and the unions in the lead to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Christian Addai Poku, EIARC Chairperson, observe that while we grieve over the losses caused by Covid 19; loss of learning and teaching time, job losses, etc., we celebrate the new opportunities brought by the hybrid programmes including virtual and distance learning. The continuous development for teachers should empower them in the use of technology.
He however said that inadequate digital infrastructure had led to the digital divide and as unions in the education sector we need to strongly advocate for digital investment and hybrid teaching.
“The education we have gone through in these two days should influence our union operations and further serve as the catalyst for the operationalization of the EIRAF framework on Hybrid Teaching”, he concluded.