Education International Africa brought together over 65 representatives of member organisations in the region in a virtual meeting today, on 5th May 2022, to discuss the need for research to inform teachers’ union action and advocacy and to launch a regional research network.
The meeting was opened by the Regional Director of EI Africa, Dr Dennis Sinyolo. He emphasized the fact that research is the lifeblood of education unions as the evidence it generates can help inform and support union advocacy efforts, lobbying and campaigns and substantiate their demands and ensure effective policy and social dialogue, including collective bargaining. He gave examples of how research evidence used by education unions has helped to expose violations of human and trade union rights, to monitor progress towards the achievement of SDG4 and the objectives of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa and to proffer solutions to educational and teacher-related challenges in Africa and globally.
Recalling the numerous EI Congress Resolutions, research initiatives and the setting up of a Research Network and a Research Institute Board at the global level, Dr Dennis highlighted how EI values research. He announced the launch of the EI Africa Research Network, which will be a platform for EI member organisations in Africa to share research evidence and develop strategies for effective evidence-informed and evidence-based advocacy, social and policy dialogue.
The meeting was an opportunity for member organisations to share experiences on how they have used research evidence to support their advocacy, campaigns, and social and policy dialogue. Participants were updated on recent and ongoing EI research at global and regional levels, and how they could use it to support their engagements with governments and other stakeholders in education to promote the teaching profession, human and trade union rights, and monitor the advancement of SDG4. Member organisations agreed on the need to use research as a powerful tool for successful advocacy, policy, and social dialogue, as well as campaigns. They went on to identify major challenges affecting education and educators in the Region and came up with strategies to advance research aimed at addressing those challenges. The meeting made proposals on urgent issues that EI Africa could consider for future research.
The meeting was also an opportunity to launch the EI Africa Research Network (Africa ResNet). Participants also adopted a statement on the role of research in advocacy and social dialogue. The statement reaffirms the need for EI member organisations in Africa to develop research capacity to help them engage in evidence-based advocacy, campaigns, and social and policy dialogue, as well as their collective commitment to the EI Africa Research Network.
In concluding the meeting, the EI Africa Regional Director indicated that the regional secretariat of EI will continue to provide specific training on research through its capacity development arm, the Pan African Teachers Centre. He promised that some of the challenges affecting education and educators in Africa as identified by the participants will be integrated into the future operational plans of EI Africa, if funds are available. He invited all the unions to strengthen or develop their research strategy through the establishment of strong research desks, departments, and recruitment of full-time researchers.