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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 February 14 - 20  > Japanese and foreign teachers exchange experiences on struggles against stronger control over teachers
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2018 February 14 - 20 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Japanese and foreign teachers exchange experiences on struggles against stronger control over teachers

February 20, 2018
The All Japan Teachers and Staffs Union (Zenkyo) on February 19 held an international symposium to exchange views on education under neo-liberal policies as well as experiences on struggles against the government in each country.

Zenkyo Chair Nakamura Naofumi on behalf of the organizer delivered a speech.

Nakamura pointed out that the Abe government intends to push forward with education policies emphasizing extreme competition and nationalism while slashing the nation’s education budget. Explaining Zenkyo’s struggle against the Abe government, Nakamura expressed his determination to strengthen union efforts in collaboration with parents and concerned citizens to realize an education system based on the pacifist Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Overseas panelists came from various labor unions in Italy, Portugal, and the United States.

Claudio Franchi, International Affairs Head of the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL)-affiliated teachers’ union (FLC), reported that the union fought back against the Italian government policies which included interference in education through an assessment system and the imposition of longer working hours on teachers. The Italian union activist pointed out that it is important for teachers and children’s guardians to speak out on government policies related to education.

The International Secretary of the National Federation of Teachers (FENPROF), one of Portugal’s major teachers unions, Manuela Mendoza, cited the fact that between 2011 and 2015, the right-wing Portuguese government carried out cuts in public expenditure on education as part of austerity measures and introduced a national evaluation examination program. The program increased competition among schools and was used as a tool for labor management. Mendoza said that the education reform and reduction in education spending led to worsening of teachers' working conditions along with an increase in bureaucratism and employment insecurity. She added that together with other unions, her union organized strikes to push the government to improve the situation.

Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) President Barbara Madeloni spoke about her union’s efforts to beat back union-busting and the current attack on public education in Massachusetts. She emphasized the importance of grassroots activities and the development of leadership among union members.

Zenkyo Secretary General Obata Masako said that it is necessary for educators’ unions throughout the world to increase their struggles against the attack on teacher’s professionalism and the imposition of stronger control over teachers.
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