Pacific unions meet on education priorities

Nicole Calnan
Acting Deputy Secretary

COPE's role is to strengthen teacher unions

The Council of Pacific Education (COPE) held its 21st conference in Fiji on September 1-2 with representatives of 17 unions from 11 countries in attendance, focusing on the theme “The role of Pacific teacher organisations towards 2030 education agenda and framework for action: a new vision for education”.

COPE’s role is to help teacher unions in the region become strong, independent and democratic organisations so that they effectively play their rightful role for the promotion of and protection of teachers’ rights and the provision of quality teachers, quality resources and safe learning environments.

Conference heard climate change, the impact of natural disasters and domestic violence continue to be major issues for the islands in the Pacific. These issues have a significant impact on the quality provision of education.

The work of COPE and the teacher unions in these countries is vitally important in ensuring the progress towards the goal of quality education for all. As a development cooperation partner, the role of the Australian Education Union (AEU) is crucial in assisting to build capacity within these unions.

The conference recommendations focus on the Sustainable Development Goals and the work that the island affiliates will need to undertake to put in place plans to meet the goals by 2030.

A Youth Leadership Training Program held prior to the commencement of the Council of Pacific Education Regional Conference was conducted by the Secretary-General of COPE, Govind Singh, and AEU International Trust Fund Committee member and Federation City Organiser, Henry Rajendra. Participants represented most of the teacher unions from across the Pacific.

The training program focused on building teacher union capacity to develop effective community-based campaigns aimed at achieving improved learning experiences and outcomes for all students. A subsequent recommendation from the COPE Regional Conference encouraged all affiliated Pacific teacher unions to continue with such training and development across school communities.

The NSW delegation to COPE comprised Henry Rajendra, Charline Emzin-Boyd, Nicole Calnan and Russell Honnery.