Education unions join ‘Week of action’ to show need for good public services
Belgian public sector unions are organising a week of action this week in support of funding, staffing levels and quality of service in the public sector. The education unions too are joining the protests.
The education sector faces many challenges: the debate on the curriculum, teacher job statutes, falling pupil performance targets, the teacher shortage. Flemish education minister Weyts (nationalist) says he’s working on a solution and has appointed a commission of wise men and women, but the education unions too want to get their message across.
“The four education unions are launching a very broad information campaign” says Koen Van Kerkhoven of the Christian union: “We will consult and provide information at all levels: kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, advanced education, parttime and adult education. We will be listening to the real experts, hear their voices, the challenges they are facing, the solutions they propose. We also want to see their reaction to government proposals!”
The unions are also eager to hear staff’s views on working conditions, school infrastructure, the digital evolution and the need to have people to train staff in these skills.
Trades unionist Van Kerkhoven believes education staff have the impression they are not being listened to enough: “People in front of the class want to be ‘autonomous professionals’ and they don’t always have the impression good use is being made of their autonomous professionalism”.
Information sessions will be staged in schools across the education sector this week. The unions have given strike notification that will only be used if no agreement can be reached between local union officials and school managements on when information sessions can be organised.
This week’s wide consultation is seen as a start. Based on what they learn the unions will post videos and interviews on social media. In this way they hope to stimulate the debate in teacher common rooms and be able to formulate new ideas after Easter.