Federation of East African Teachers’ Unions (FEATU) is an organisation affiliating Seven free teachers’ unions from five member states of the East African Community (EAC) namely Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. FEATU was registered under the government of United Republic of Tanzania (URT) laws and given Certificate No. FED 02 on 25th November, 2013.
FEATU grew up into a federation after its transformation from the Forum of East African Teachers’ Unions which started and grew up as a conglomeration of teachers’ unions in the East African region. Initially as a forum, the organisation was officially launched on the 25th of June 2007 at the Kasarani Sports View Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. The launching culminated from the idea to establish FEATU way back in March 2003 during the annual Project Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting in Machakos, Kenya, between the joint Danish Teachers’ Union (DLF) – the Danish Labour centres (LO/FTF) Council and four East African Teachers’ Unions, namely, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU), Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) and Zanzibar Teachers’ Union (ZATU).
Conceived in March, 2003, the FEATU idea was further digested at the East African Teachers’ Unions conference, held in Arusha from 10th to 13th December, 2006, with moral and material support from DLF and LO/FTF Council through Ms. Mette Klinte who was the DLF/LO/FTF Council Project Resident Advisor stationed in the region. Three unions KNUT, TTU and ZATU attended, each with five persons including political top leaders and respective project coordinators. The idea was shared to the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and the East African Trade Unions Confederation (EATUC) that became instrumental to understanding the criteria for a non-state actor organisation to be granted the observer status at the EAC. The EAC Secretariat, through Ms. Mary Makoffu and the EATUC through Emmanuel Nzunda, the Executive Secretary, spent the first two days making informative presentations with highlight that paved the way for the unions to come out with the road map towards the kind of an organisation that would merit the observer status at the EAC.
The conference came with the resolutions below:-
1. The Regional Teachers’ Unions should come together and form the East African Teachers’ Unions Federation (EATUF).
2. The regional Teachers Unions should start working towards establishment of a desk within the EAC.
3. The inclusion of Rwanda and Burundi in the EAC is welcome and invitation be extended to their Teachers’ Unions to participate in subsequent East African Teachers’ Unions conferences.
4. The project Co-coordinators from the Teachers’ Unions were mandated to prepare proposals and the process towards the establishment of the East African Teachers’ Federation in March 2007, in Zanzibar.
5. The DLF/LOFTF Council be requested to finance the coordinators workshop in February 2007 in Arusha.
The subsequent conference was recommended to be held in Arusha in February, 2007 with the consultation of the EAC member of the Secretariat, EATUC, the DLF/LO/FTF council project regional advisor and an officer from Education International-Africa region, with material support from the project advisor. However, the conference took place in March, 2007 in Zanzibar.
ZATU in collaboration with DLF and LO/FTF council organised a meeting from 12th to 16th March, 2007, at Jambiani Visitors Inn and Mazson hotel, Zanzibar for teachers in the region (KNUT, TTU,UNATU and ZATU). Also, with the help from the DLF and LO/FTF Council Project regional resident advisor, Ms Mette Klinte, SNEP (SNER) & SENJOUSMEL (SYNEDUC) of Rwanda and STEB of Burundi were invited to discuss issues on teachers’ unions and the labour movement in general and cooperation among the unions in East Africa. There were objectives including as follows:-
• To explore possibilities of co-operation among teachers’ unions in East Africa.
• To decide a structure which could secure teachers’ interests and influence decision making in the EAC Parliament specifically on education and labour market matters related to teachers.
The envisaged outcome from the two objectives was to come out with a structure and decisions on modalities for its operations to address teachers’ issues and the harmonisation of education within the EAC.
The meeting cum workshop was preoccupied by membership retention and recruitment issues. However, the unions moved a step further towards the establishment of the forum by brainstorming the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the East African Teachers’ Unions Consultative Forum (EATUCF) as an entry point. Below are the TOR:-
1. EATUCF should work towards harmonization of:
a. Education Policies
b. Education Systems
2. EATUCF should advocate for establishment of independent Teachers’ Service Commission in each country as the sole teachers’ employer.
3. EATUCF should advocate for free movement of Teachers and Students within the region.
4. EATUCF should start working towards establishment of a desk within the EAC.
5. EATUCF should work towards observer status within the EAC Committee for Education, Culture and Sports.
6. EATUCF and the regional Teachers Unions together with other education sector stakeholders should ensure effective participation of teachers in giving views at EAC, e.g. on:-
a. Teachers’ welfare
b. Educational matters
c. Free movement of labour force, especially educationists
d. Political federation
e. Common market
7. EATUCF should be represented in EATUC (East African Trade Unions Congress) meetings.
8. EATUCF should share experience/information with EATUC on the development within the labour market in EAC
9. EATUCF should establish frequent contact with the EAC secretariat responsible for the social sector harmonization
10. EATUCF & Teachers Unions in each country should advise EAC when views on education and other related issues are needed.
11. Kiswahili should be promoted and encouraged as an official language.
12. EATUCF should work towards the harmonization of Teacher education curricula, certification, and award of diplomas and degrees.
13. EATUCF should strive for better terms and conditions of service for teachers in EAC. Subsequently harmonization must not result in lower remuneration or poorer working conditions for any group of teachers.
These TOR were instrumental to the drafting of the constitution of the Forum of the East African Teachers’ Unions under the secretariat led by KNUT which was chosen to host the subsequent meeting in June, 2007. The June meeting was attended by the top three leaders plus a project coordinator of the respective unions from 24th to 26th June, 2007 at Kasarani Sports View Hotel, Nairobi, where FEATU was officially launched on 25th September, 2007 with KNUT, TTU, UNATU and ZATU being the founder member unions.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), being the oldest teachers’ organisation among the member unions, was unanimously elected to be the interim chair for a duration of two years from 25th June, 2007.
In the same meeting the members appointed a Technical Committee comprising the project coordinators from the unions and the KNUT legal officer, Mr. Kabiru Macharia to draft the FEATU constitution, which they did from 29th June to 1st July, with advisory input by Ms. Mette Klinte.
The next FEATU meeting convened from 14th to 16th September, 2007 at Kasarani Sports View hotel where the Executive Council adopted the constitution on the 15th September 2002.
At the FEATU meeting held from 12th to 14th June, 2008 at the Arusha Crown Hotel, KNUT was mandated to visit Rwanda and Burundi to explore the possibility for unions in those countries to join FEATU thus making the forum a complete East African teachers’ organisation. In August 2008, three top officials from KNUT and one official from UNATU visited Rwanda and Burundi to fulfil what was agreed during the June meeting.
From 19th to 20th November, 2008, a complete FEATU conference was held at Novotel hotel in Kigali-Rwanda, where Seven East African Teachers’ Unions-KNUT, TTU, UNATU, ZATU, STEB, SENJOUSMEL and SNEP, came together. The STEB of Burundi, SNEP and SENJOUSMEL of Rwanda were officially accepted as FEATU member unions thus making a complete federation of teachers’ unions which had been the vision of FEATU since the idea was adopted in 2003 even before Rwanda and Burundi became Partners members state of the EAC.
The task ahead after the accommodation of the unions from Rwanda and Burundi was to strive for the registration of the organisation. To achieve this, the constitution required amendments and rules developed so as to transform the forum into a federation. A series of conferences cum meetings took place hand-in-hand with consultations with the Register of Organisations in Tanzania on making the constitution and the rules acceptable for a federation to be, until it was registered on 23rd November, 2013 as a federation, with registration certificate No. FED 02
Having attained the registration, FEATU established its office with a full time coordinator in Arusha from July, 2016. In September 2018, a part-time Finance Assistant to assist the Coordinator on financial matters. FEATU is in it struggle for the observer status at the EAC secretariat.
NB: Other information to include as necessary:-
1. Rotational leadership taken place so far:-
KNUT: 25th June 2007-4th March 2010
TTU: 4th March 2010 – 11th February 2014
UNATU: 11th February 2014 – 14th April 2016
ZATU: 14th April 2016 – August 2018
SNER: August 2018 – 6TH Sept. 2021
STEB: 06th Sept. 2021 –to date.