Campaigning for education funding in Cameroon: new energy to transform education

As Cameroon prepares for a crucial election year, education unions - the Fédération Camerounaise des Syndicats de l’Éducation (FECASE) and the Fédération des Syndicats de l'Enseignement et de la Recherche (FESER) - are mobilising to make the funding of public education a national priority. Spearheaded by Education International's Go public! Fund Education campaign and supported by the recommendations of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, this initiative aims to transform the education landscape and ensure a better future for generations to come. Find out how education stakeholders are joining forces to defend essential budget commitments and to fight against the growing privatisation of education.
Capacity-building and budget advocacy
The unions organised an essential training workshop on understanding and influencing the state budget process. ‘If we are talking about increasing the budget, it is imperative to understand how it is put together and why the government has failed to honour its commitments,’ said FECASE General Secretary Thobie Mbassi. With the help of specialists, the trade unionists learned how to read and analyse budgets, identifying superfluous expenditure and areas requiring increased funding. This training proved crucial for advocacy efforts, enabling trade unionists to better defend increased budgets when dealing with political actors, civil society, and parents.
Privatisation: a threat to education
The privatisation of education is a threat to the entire education community. The training and awareness-raising workshops were also an opportunity to discuss the dangers of the commodification of education, gaining the support of parents and NGOs. The unions are committed to sharing this knowledge widely to ensure strong support for their actions.
Political campaigning and communication
The unions decided to refocus their campaign on a major political issue. ‘We want education funding to become a political argument in future election campaigns,’ explained FESER Deputy General Secretary, Roger Kaffo. To this end, a meeting with members of Parliament and political parties is planned for November, incorporating the 59 recommendations of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession. Cameroon's education unions have summarised and reorganised the recommendations into 10 groups, with each group referring to a specific aspect of teaching. For example, one group deals with recommendations concerning the introduction of digital technology in education. The unions will also promote the Education International guide entitled ”Activating the Recommendations of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession”.
Regional outreach and mobilisation
Visits to the Littoral and West regions, particularly Douala and Bafoussam, helped to strengthen local mobilisation. ‘We have re-evaluated and given new impetus to the campaign thanks to the support of Education International,’ added Mr. Mbassi. The mobilisation includes meetings with officials from UNESCO and the International Labour Organization to relay teachers’ concerns to the government.
Increased communication and awareness-raising
Thanks to new funding, the unions will be stepping up their communication efforts with special radio and television programmes, as well as a press lunch scheduled for the end of August, shortly before the start of the new school year. Videos in French and English will also be produced to reach a wider audience.
In the run-up to the new school year, posters will be displayed in educational establishments across the country, and the UN recommendations will be widely distributed. ‘We want every trade union leader to explain and raise awareness among their colleagues of the importance of adequate funding for education,’ said Mr. Kaffo.
Renewed union commitment
Faced with broken promises and sanctions for wildcat strikes led by non-unionized teacher activists, teachers are beginning to see the need to respect union rules and engage constructively. The 'On a trop supporté' (OTS) movement has highlighted the limits of unsupervised action, reinforcing the crucial role of trade unions.
With a detailed strategy and coordinated actions, Cameroon's trade unions hope not only to increase funding for education, but also to achieve an in-depth transformation of the education system.
With their campaign plan published on the platform of the Réseau des Enseignantes Syndicalistes de l'Afrique Centrale (RESAC), the campaign could well serve as a model for other unions in the region, proving that commitment and mobilisation can lead to lasting change.

[Fri, 21 Jun 2024 13:51:06 +0000] | DIGG THIS

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