Teacher taskforce to tackle education challenges

Teacher taskforce to tackle education challenges

New data released by UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force shows that 9.1 million teachers across the world who have been impacted by coronavirus school closures (out of 63 million affected teachers in total) are untrained.

This is only exacerbating the impact of the crisis as teachers are forced to adapt to remote learning.

The data was unveiled for the first time at ‘Teachers of the World, Unite!’ – a virtual summit held by the Varkey Foundation as a member of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition to give thousands of teachers across the world a voice at the top table for the first time.

The problem is most acute in sub-Saharan Africa where nearly half (42% or 2.7 million) of all the 6.4 million primary and secondary teachers impacted by school closures are untrained.

In Central and Southern Asia, 3.3 million teachers impacted by school closures are untrained – almost a quarter (24.5%) of the 13.8 million teachers impacted overall. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are 894,000 untrained teachers who have been impacted – 14% of the 6.4 million teachers impacted overall.

Meanwhile, data released by UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force, on the basis of data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the International Telecommunication Union, show 706 million of the world’s 1.75 billion learners lack internet access.

The data revealing the scale of the educational challenge posed by COVID-19 was discussed at the ‘Teachers of the World, Unite!’ summit on coronavirus and the future of education.

The summit - which was opened by Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize – saw the launch of nine teacher task forces on coronavirus and the future of education to be coordinated in collaboration with UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force.

These nine task forces will lend governments and international bodies the expertise and varied perspectives of teachers from every continent on key policies such as providing reliable internet access for all, solutions to keep children learning where there is no internet, and a safe environment for teachers and students to return to when schools reopen.

UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force also presented teachers at the summit a draft toolkit with practical tips and checklists for school leaders to ensure they are supported and protected as schools re-open. Participants were able to discuss the toolkit and provide feedback to help improve this important international tool before it is released.

Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, said it is vital that teacher voice is put at the heart of the organisation’s mission to champion inclusive learning opportunities for children and young people all over the world during this sudden and unprecedented disruption to global education.

Giannini said the taskforce will “help discuss the key educational issues of our time”, from teacher training to providing reliable internet access for all and solutions to keep students learning where internet access is unavailable.

“The combined knowledge and experience of these teachers in tackling a multitude of novel educational challenges from the front line will help the international community answer the crucial questions that will shape the future of education in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.