Educator Profile: Johanna Sanjuan, Colombia

Johanna Sanjuan, Colombia

Johanna Sanjuan, Colombia

Educator Profile: Johanna Sanjuan, October 2017

In this interview Johanna Sanjuan, director of education at affiliate ENS – Escuela Nacional Sindical shares about the political context in Colombia, and how education with trade unions is not just about workers’ rights, it’s also about right to be an active citizen in a democratic society. She also tells us about her impressions of YGAP in 2017, on the second last day of her participation.


On the peace accord developing in Colombia:

Now in Colombia we have a very important moment, maybe it’s an historic moment that we have worked for 50 years. Now the government in Colombia is doing an agreement with guerrillas in FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and ELM (National Liberation Army). Now we are advocating for a stronger agreement with the citizens, with the mobilisation for different sections of the unions, for supporting the agreement because we need a more democratic society. We think the peace agreement is an opportunity, an impulse for democracy.


On the position of trade unions in Colombia towards this peace agreement:

I think that the unions in Colombia in general are supporting the peace agreement because it is a big opportunity to become a more democratic society, to have better conditions of work. We are working with the unions for decent work and a decent country.


On the position of ENS on the peace agreement:

We support the peace agreement. We are working for example on different subjects or issues that the peace agreement contains. For example we are working for better workers’ conditions for rural workers, because the rural areas in Colombia has a worse situation of poverty. It’s especially for us the work about the guarantees for social protection and citizen participation in political life of our country.


On how ENS’ education work with trade unions could impact on the peace agreement:

At ENS, we are doing education for a better understanding of the peace agreement for workers and unions. We are doing activities with unions about lobbying, activities for non-violence, for better working conditions, for political life, for elections, for different actions and more participation in political parties, for more policies that include and recognise the diversity in our country. The recognition of unions is a very important thing in democracy.


What impact has YGAP made on you these past two weeks?

YGAP has been a very important experience for me. It has different meanings: for my job it’s very important because I have new tools to get new people to enrol and join the unions; and to do better methodology and pedagogy about subjects that is important for the union.

For me personally, this has been a really great experience because these weeks have changed my mind, because I “clicked”, because you know you have to work together with others, but now I really understand how it is to work together, and to work almost with nothing can make big difference and can change a life, and this is possible if you work together.