Cover Image
close this bookThe Courier N° 119 Jan - Febr 1990 - Dossier National Languages - Country Report: Gambia (EC Courier, 1990, 100 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderMeeting point
View the documentDomingo L. SIAZON, Jr. Director-General of UNIDO
close this folderACP-EEC
View the documentTraining and commodities: development priorities for the social partners
View the documentCooperation between ACP and EEC institutions and universities
close this folderCountry report: The Gambia
View the documentMarket forces rule, OK.
View the documentAn interview with Sir Dawda Jawara
View the documentThe demise of the Senegambian Confederation
View the documentThe Gambia-EEC Cooperation
close this folderACP
View the documentStructural adjustment - NIGER: reforms under the first structural adjustment programme
View the documentTrinidad and Tobago: the issues and the evidence
View the documentControlling erosion in south-eastern Nigeria
close this folderEurope
View the documentEuropean Civil Protection: responding to disasters
close this folderDossier
View the documentNational languages
View the documentNational languages and development
View the documentThe languages of Africa: an annotated map
View the documentNational languages in teaching
View the documentThe language of instruction: some statistics concerning sub-Saharan Africa
View the documentIs a lingua franca possible in Nigeria?
View the documentSeychelles:Using Creole (Seselwa) in schools: a cultural challenge
View the documentFunctional literacy, agricultural extension work and local languages
View the documentLanguage and authenticity: the case of Zaïre
View the documentThe use of Shona in Zimbabwe press
View the documentNational on La Voix du Sahel
View the documentCommon language, different cultures
View the documentI write in Gikuyu
View the documentLanguages in danger of disappearance: the case of Papua New Guinea
close this folderClose-up
View the documentThe National Sheep Rearing Centre, Béoumi
View the documentAgbassa: a model for population transfer
View the documentGabon: producing fertilisers locally
close this folderDeveloping world,
View the documentCadmium: menace or myth?
close this folderCulture and the arts
View the documentTowards a Pan-African Association for African oral tradition and heritage
View the documentMakondé art, traditional and modern
close this folderCTA - Bulletin
View the documentFrom paper to computers: IRETA information services in the South Pacific
View the documentThe Courier’s mailbag
View the documentBooks
close this folderNews round-up
View the documentThe convention at work
View the documentEDF financing
View the documentEIB
View the documentEmergency aid
View the documentACP EMBASSIES
View the documentACP Group
View the documentVisits
View the documentFisheries
View the documentGeneral information
View the documentGATT
View the documentEastern Europe
View the documentUNESCO
View the documentCentral America
View the documentLatin America
View the documentIndia
View the documentEuropean community
View the documentPollution
View the documentEuropean summit
View the documentAcknowledgements

Training and commodities: development priorities for the social partners

Representatives of ACP and EEC economic and social interest groups gathered in Brussels in mid-November for their 13th Annual Meeting. The purpose of such meetings is to taring members of employers’ and workers’ organisations from both the ACP and the EEC Member States in contact with representatives of the EEC institutions, and joint ACP-EEC institutions, to express their views on how best their interests could be served, or safeguarded, in the context of the Lomonvention. This year’s meeting centred on two major themes: firstly, vocational training (with special reference to farmers’ training) and secondly, the deterioration in the terms of trade which has been the fate of most of the ACP States throughout the 1980s.

The meeting took place at a time when, in the words of Edwin Carrington, the Secretary-General of the ACP Group, the negotiations for the new cooperation agreement, LomV, were “nearly finished but far from complete”. So that, despite his implication that much was still missing in the agreement, the new Lomie was virtually cast, and it was not so much a question of the “grass roots” representatives hoping to influence the content of the Convention as of hoping that its content would be given substantiation.

Two themes: vocational training...

This was, for example, the wish of Sheela Flather, the Rapporteur on the discussion paper on vocational training drawn up by an ad hoc group of the Economic and Social Committee, who rejoiced in the proposed article in LomV on the training of women, in particular, but emphasised that it would be meaningless unless followed by action.

The purpose of the paper, which served as the basis for debate, was both to “highlight the importance of vocational training for the development and growth of the ACPs” and to encourage the stepping up of vocational training, not only as an integral part of development programmes and projects, but as a fit subject of such projects and programmes in its own right. On the purpose of vocational training, as defined in the paper, there was consensus its overall objective should be to “ provide individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge which will contribute to the economic growth of both organisations and countries”. It was a vital activity, and funds for it were equally vital. “The Community”, argued Mr Sada Diallo, a member of the National Employers’ Federation of Mali, “ should make available massive aid for training”. It could also give assistance to its own Member States. One participant, from Ireland, called for help to his country, where a number of training colleges were having to be closed for lack of funds. Mr

Fayese, the Secretary-General of the Nigerian Cooperatives’ Federation, was among several to stress the importance of audio-visual aids, especially of radio which, he said, was “ a much-neglected medium”.

Others emphasised the importance of appropriate vocational training, i.e. in fields where there were jobs to be found. Bakary Karambe, of the Mali Trades Union, pointed to the situation in his country where many who were highly educated (graduates, lawyers) were needing to be re-trained as farmers, because other avenues offered them no hope of earning their living. Gabriella Nimbona, representing a cooperative group in Kigali, Rwanda’ expressed hope that the resolution to be adopted at the close of the meeting would become reality, particularly as regarded the education of women in rural society. “ It is well known “, she said, “ that if you educate a woman, you educate a family”, adding that development projects which had invested in men had not had the same impact as those which had invested in women. She was among many calling for funds for vocational training in the ACP States to be channelled through NGOs. “ Vocational training,’, said Mohamed Ali, of Mauritania, “ is not a monopoly of the State “. Local NGOs, who knew and understood the social and cultural context of training could speak the language of those trained, were at great advantage.

The participants’ final declaration on this theme, affirming that “ a focus on training... would contribute considerably to the development of the ACP countries”, called, inter alia, for greater regional cooperation in training, and in particular for the creation of more regional and sub-regional training centres. The basic training of those involved in farming and non-farming rural activities, it continued, “ will tend to be the teaching of literacy; but it should consist, too, of training in the techniques of crop production and livestock rearing, elementary mechanics, the handling of water, carpentry, environmental protection and the like”. This declaration will now, as is customary, be forwarded to the European Parliament’s Joint Assembly, to the Council, the Commission and to all those participating actively in the Convention in one way or another, in the hope that its various recommendations will be followed up. This, Carlo Casini (Vice President of the Joint Assembly) admitted in his opening address, had not always been the case in the past, or not adequately. But there had at least been recognition of one fundamental principle dear to the economic and social interest groups namely that of genuine polycentric cooperation, i.e. cooperation which functioned through a wide variety of public and private bodies and which kept as close to its beneficiaries as possible, which was becoming a reality in the implementation of the present Convention.

... and commodities prices

The second theme of the Meeting, that of the deterioration of the terms of trade, was highly apposite, since it had been the inadequacy of the trade concessions that, to a great extent, had caused the most recent round of LomV negotiations to falter a few days earlier.

Summarising the discussion paper for the assembly, Marc Cortois, of the Belgian Confederation of Christian Trades Unions, recalled the trend in commodity prices over the past two decades, a trend which, in the 1980s had been characterised by three main facets: instability in world market prices, deterioration in the terms of trade of countries heavily dependent on commodity exports and a particularly sharp fall in commodity prices between 1980-86, a period when a number of factors heightened the problem of indebtedness. The trend had not been uniform in respect of all commodities and the paper naturally concentrated on those of greatest importance for the ACPs-oil, coffee, copper, cocoa, wood and sugar.

In a nutshell, the situation was as follows: sub-Saharan Africa as a whole had seen export earnings fall by some 30% in the years 1981-87. For the oil-exporting developing countries the fall had been the sharpest (some 50 %), but food-crop exporters had also suffered badly. The trend in import prices (including oil) had also been downward but never by more than 10%, SO that the terms of trade had deteriorated overall, very considerably over the decade.

Two options: stabilisation or compensation

Mr Cortois went on to analyse briefly some of the mechanisms for offsetting price instability-stabilising commodity prices or stabilising export earnings commenting on the initiatives that had been taken hitherto on price stabilisation and on their relative failure. As to the two export earnings stabilisation schemes now in operation the IMF’s Compensatory Financing Facility and the Lomonvention’s STABEX mechanism, he pointed to a number of measures which could heighten their effectiveness, including, in the case of STABEX, an increase in the level of resources. As to how to approach the problem of the deterioration of the terms of trade in future, the group recommended more attention to the diversification of production and greater encouragement to more processing in the ACP countries of the commodities they produce. “ Such an approach” the discussion paper concludes, “can only produce results in the long term. But to achieve these results, both bottlenecks with which the developing countries are confronted today, viz. the burden of indebtedness and the deteriorating terms of trade, will have to be eased in the short term. Otherwise there will be no scope for the necessary structural approach”.

These sentiments were widely echoed in the discussion that followed. P.A. Thompson of the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce welcomed the “long and brutally frank debate” on the issue, “ a debate which had lost none of its daunting complexity in finding a solution”. Some arrangement for better prices and/or better compensation must be found, he said, while the medium- and long-term problems such as product diversification were being addressed. The ACPs had a part to play, it was true, in the form of fiscal and budgetary policy, but the EEC as the richer of the two partners bore the greater responsibility and “ should seize it in the interests of world peace”.

Before concluding their discussions, participants were able to hear of the latest progress in the LomV negotiations from representatives of the ACP Group (Mr Carrington), of the ACP Council (Ambassador Tavola), the EEC Council (Ambassador Vidal) and of the Commission (Mr Riera). (An account of the final developments in the negotiations is given in the News Round-up.) Not all were entirely satisfied with the manner in which matters were progressing-and the overall financial package was, of course, still an unknown factor. But one thing was certain, and participants at this meeting could take particular comfort from it: not only were economic and social interest groups becoming increasingly involved in the Lomegotiations, but there was also ever-wider consensus on the need for them to participate in development projects and programmes themselves. .