Fixed-term agreements huge issue for Pacific teachers
Affiliates from across the Pacific gathered in Nadi, Fiji from 15-19 October for the 2019 Triennial Council of Pacific Education (COPE) conference.
COPE president Correna Haythorpe opened the meeting with a speech that focussed on a lack of progress towards reaching Sustainable Development Goal 4 – High Quality Public Education for All (SDG4). Correna referred to Education International’s report entitled “Off track” which highlights the fact that many nations are failing to spend 6% of their GDP and 20% of their national budget on public education.
Commercial activity in Pacific education
Queensland University researcher Anna Hogan and Education International (EI) head of global response Angelo Gavrielatos launched the Commercial Activity in Pacific Education report. The report is part of the work EI is pursuing to push back against the commercialisation and privatisation of the Pacific.
The report found that while the challenges of each Pacific nation are unique, some common threads did emerge, including; large class sizes, difficulty in accessing PLD, inadequate pay, difficulties communicating with parents and challenging student behaviour. Consultation with teachers around education policy was also raised as an issue in all nations, with the exception of Samoa.
Fixed-term agreements in Fiji
Fiji’s education minister and former secondary teacher Hon. Rosy Akbar addressed delegates. Akbar recognised the challenges faced by educators in Fiji, especially difficulties staying on-track for SDG4 and large class sizes. Gavrielatos was, however, critical of parts of Akbar’s speech, especially in light of the research finding an unprecedented number of one year fixed-term teacher employment agreements in Fiji.
Representing women and establishing teachers
Prior to the COPE triennial meeting, Canterbury executive member Bernie Lee represented PPTA and New Zealand at the women’s network meeting. Establishing teachers Kijiana Pene (Manawatu/Whanganui) and Paul Stevens (Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland) attended a two day youth training workshop.
First Ni-Vanuatu COPE president
And very good news – Neselinda Garae, president of the Vanuatu Teachers’ Union was elected president of COPE for 2020 to 2022. This is the first time in council history the presidency will be held outside of Australia or New Zealand.