Ethiopia: The Ethiopian Teachers’ Association mobilises for safe schools and workplaces

published 27 October 2023 updated 22 March 2024

On the occasion of World Teachers’ Day (WTD), October 5th, the Ethiopian Teachers’ Association (ETA) reaffirmed that quality education requires safe teaching and learning environments.

From 24-25 October 2023, ETA organised, in collaboration with the Jigjiga University located in the Eastern part of Ethiopia, a WTD conference, in the presence of federal and state government officials.

Safe School Declaration

ETA President and member of Education International (EI) Executive Board, Dr Yohannes Benti, presented the Safe School Declaration, an inter-governmental political commitment to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities from the worst effects of armed conflict.

He called for the Ethiopian government to endorse it, and reminded that, in May 2017; the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres called upon all countries to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration. As of May 2023, the 118 countries have endorsed it. This would be a crucial step, Yohannes Benti said, especially since the country has had to suffer the devastating impact of the Tigray War on education.

The Tigray War was an armed conflict that lasted from 3 November 2020 to 3 November 2022 in the Northern Ethiopian region. It was fought between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front.

During this war, ETA condemned the damage and disruption inflicted on students, teachers and the education system. They called on relevant public authorities to put an immediate halt to the armed conflict.

“We wish to join in WTD celebrations,” Yohannes Benti said. “This year, the global education union movement underlined on 5 October the scale and impact of the teacher shortage around the world. According to UNESCO, the world needs 69 million more teachers by 2030 to achieve universal basic education yet current trends see this deficit increasing, with many teachers leaving the profession.”

“Ethiopian teachers also wish to seize the opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of safe teaching and learning environments for quality education for all, as well as for peaceful, democratic and sustainable societies,” he added.

ILO Convention 190

During this WTD conference, ETA Deputy General Secretary, Destaye Tadesse, also presented the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 (C 190) on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work.

She went on noting that ETA is strongly advocating for the government to ratify this instrument, outcome of ten years concerted campaigning by trade unions and allied civil society groups. The Convention defines violence and harassment as a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices, and focuses on the harms that may be caused, whether physical, psychological, sexual or economic.

Ratifying governments are required to adopt legislative and policy measures to prevent, expose and remedy gender-based violence and harassment, including defining clear lines of responsibility.