John Thompson Fellowship Programme
The Education International Africa Region has revived and relaunched the John Thompson Fellowship (JTF) programme, with the first training taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21st to 27th November 2022 for EI member organizations from East Africa, known as Zone 5. It brought together representatives from SYNEDUC and SYPERWA from Rwanda, NTUSS from South Sudan, UNATU from Uganda, TTU of Tanzania, ZATU of Zanzibar, and member organizations in Kenya: KUPPET, KNUT, and UASU. The participants who will be called Fellows of the John Thompson Fellowship at the end of the training are Presidents, General Secretaries, women, and youth leaders from the respective organisations.
In his opening remarks, the EI Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Dennis Sinyolo, said that the revival of the John Thompson Fellowship programme in Africa was prompted by the need to develop a teacher trade union movement with solid structures, clear policies, and active membership at all levels, hence the theme of ‘’Building a Vibrant Education Union Movement in Africa’’.
The John Thompson Fellowship training for EI affiliates in East Africa builds on the efforts of the EI Africa regional office’s effort to revamp the capacities of the affiliates in the Region through the exchange of experiences and development of skills in the areas of leadership and management, organizing, social and policy dialogue, gender equality, and many more. The training is founded on the results from a needs assessment survey of EI member organisations in Africa and the results of their SWOT(Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis carried out in 2021. The results of both the survey and SWOT analysis revealed several challenges and threats, including government meddling in union affairs, loss of union membership, inadequate payment of membership dues, and lack of internal democracy. The programme will, therefore, contribute to the Educational International strategic direction of union renewal, growth, and development through capacity building.
“In the past, the John Thompson Fellowship Programme contributed significantly to the development of the strong unions we have in the Africa Region today and its resuscitation could see more strong, independent, sustainable, member-driven unions in the region”, Dennis Sinyolo concluded.
The John Thompson Fellowship programme is named after John M. Thompson, former Secretary-General of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP), from 1970 to 1981. WCOTP merged with the International Federation of Free Teachers Unions (IFFTU) in 1993 to form Education International (EI). The John Thompson Fellowship Programme aims to strengthen education sector trade unions through capacity building.
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