We, from Anakbayan-Canada, a comprehensive youth organization as part of the Philippine National Democratic movement, support the thousands of striking Education Workers in the province of Ontario as they fight for better compensation and wages, smaller class sizes, special education funding, and equitable hiring practices. We understand the importance of quality education to develop the minds of tomorrow to be. As a progressive, militant Filipino youth, we support the continual struggle against the neoliberal attacks on public education, and fight for free and emancipatory education from Ontario to the Philippines.
On February 21, 2020, elementary and secondary teachers and education workers represented by the four major education unions, in Ontario stood against the Ford government’s cuts. Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), and Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) participated in a one-day walkout across the province.
We recognize that this downturn of events under Doug Ford administration is nothing new. The current Progressive Conservative provincial government is only carrying out an oppressive and exclusive system, put in place by their Liberal predecessors. Both Conservatives and Liberals, although of differing parties, do not represent the working class. Rather, they continue to advance the capitalist, settler-colonial, and imperialist agenda.
Pathways for Filipino youth in Ontario are already narrow, as our fellow youth have among the lowest rates of university completion compared to children of other immigrant ethnic groups across the province. Else, while culturally-relevant education is lacking, moreso are teachers ill-equipped in addressing the challenges that immigrant youth, particularly newcomers experience.
We recognize that the forces and conditions that drive teachers and education workers onto the picket lines are the similar issues that our siblings are fighting for in the Philippines. While students bear the brunt in a commercialized, colonial and fascist character of Philippine education system, teachers organizations, such as the Alliance for Concerned Teachers (ACT), continue to fight for decent working conditions, dignity in their profession, and wage increase as the Duterte administration’s new salary standardization law (SSL) falls short for the already depressed workers to even meet standards of living.
Additionally, teacher-unionists face worsening repressive measures and a smear campaign launched against ACT’s unions and members implemented by the fascist Duterte regime. Through Executive Order 70, series of 2018 or the ‘Whole-of-Nation’ Approach in ending local communist armed conflict, teachers are subjected to harassment and threats, tagged as terrorists for having affiliations with ACT, and surveillance by suspected state agents that violates rights and freedom to conduct union activities.
“As the largest union of public school teachers, we have struggled for and won the right to represent teachers’ interests and grievances in official dialogues with DepEd. Teacher-unionists have championed the rights and welfare of not just teachers but also of our students. Therefore, the attacks against ACT are tantamount to attacks against the education sector,” said ACT Secretary General, Raymond Basilio, in a recent statement.
“Therefore, the attacks against ACT are tantamount to attacks against the education sector.”Raymond Basilio, ACT Secretary General
The basic right to education is under attack. As militant Filipino youth in Canada, we call for an end to repressive policies and cuts, from Ford’s neoliberal “back to basic” reforms to Duterte’s Salary Standardization Law and EO 70, s. 2018’s “Whole-of-Nation” approach. We continue to struggle for nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education. Together, let us fight for free and emancipatory education for all!
MONEY FOR JOBS AND EDUCATION, NOT FOR WARS AND OCCUPATION