Solidarity Beyond Borders: Updates on Eğitim Sen's Earthquake Relief Efforts

published 4 March 2024 updated 7 March 2024

Education International (EI) organized a webinar on 22 February to update affiliates on the solidarity efforts by Eğitim Sen, EI's union Türkiye, following the February 2023 earthquake. The webinar featured speakers from Eğitim Sen, EI Executive Board members Johanna Astrand and Maike Finnern, and was moderated by EI General Secretary David Edwards.

Eğitim Sen representatives, Simge Yardim, Women Secretary, and Ramazan Gürbüz, Finance Secretary, highlighted the earthquake's impact, the union's coordinated response, and emphasised the significance of international solidarity beyond financial aid.

In the days following the earthquake, Eğitim Sen collected and prioritized local members' needs, providing shelter, essential supplies, and psychosocial support. Challenges included government hindrance and delayed emergency responses. Johanna Astrand of STU (Sweden) and Maike Finnern of GEW (Germany) shared sentiments experienced during the field visit in April 2023 illustrated through a video presentation.

The webinar also highlighted ongoing challenges, including the lack of progress in affected areas, government propaganda about achievements, and students' education risks. Eğitim Sen urged EI to deplore the lack of democracy in Türkiye, encouraging European Union institutions and governments to press for democratic reforms and social dialogue to speed up developments in the earthquake region. Local union recommendations to the Ministry of Education persist, seeking support for mental health initiatives and the provision of temporary teachers for all students to continue their education.

In conclusion, the webinar provided insights into Eğitim Sen's post-earthquake efforts implemented thanks to the generosity of teacher unions worldwide, outlined ongoing challenges, and expressed a commitment to continued support. Future webinars will focus on solidarity efforts in Ukraine, Palestine, and Syria.