EIRAF, in conjunction with ACCRS (Arab Countries Cross Regional Structure) held an online capacity building workshop on the 13th and 14th January 2022. There were 36 participants from member organisation from Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Kuwait.
Opening the workshop, Haldis Holst, EI Deputy General Secretary, said that Capacity Building is one of EI’s core strategies that should guide the way we work, build trust, knowledge, and tools to do our work better. The workshop was therefore an opportunity to learn from across borders and EI is the bridge to learn from each other. It is a means to building collective union capacity to deliver the change we need. Covid-19, she added, has compelled us to do this online and we need to do the things we do in a safe online environment with easy access. For that reason, EI was building an online labour institute to build capacity.
The two-day workshop enabled the participants to analyse their unions’ strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for renewal, growth, and development. They also discussed how to engage in more effective policy and social dialogue, including collective bargaining and to improve advocacy and lobbying skills in order to push governments to fulfil their commitment to equitable quality education for all by 2030. They further explored how to better manage unions and improve service delivery to members and to work more collaboratively with sister unions both within their countries and the cross-regional structure.
During the discussions issues emerged about the state of the unions and the difficult conditions they were operating in. Notable was the dire situation in Lebanon and Egypt where the existence of the unions was threatened.
The unions initiated strategic plans to be completed in their unions and some of the plans intended to tackle gender equality issues, including campaigning for C190. Other plans sought to organise the increasing number of contract teachers as in the case of Morocco.
Dr Dennis Sinyolo, Africa Regional Director, hailed the collaboration with the ACCRS which constitutes EI member organisation from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. The workshop, he said, was only the beginning of the capacity building programme and the member organisations would go and complete the strategic plans in their unions, implement and would be invited for a review workshop after three years.
“This programme gives the opportunity to introspect, reflect and develop measures to renew, strengthen and reenergize our unions and the teacher trade union movement in Africa and the Middle East”, he said.
“Solidarity, unity and collaboration are absolutely essential if we are to overcome present and future challenges confronting the teacher trade union movement. We are stronger together!”, he concluded in his closing remarks.