AMONG THE many fundamental changes forced upon us by the covid19 pandemic is the nature of teaching. Undoubtedly, the delivery of curriculum would never be the same post-pandemic owing to the extent to which teachers around the globe have been forced to infuse digital technology in their pedagogy.
While most teachers were never trained for or even anticipated that they would be forced to rely so heavily on digital technology, they have risen to the challenge in quick time, upscaling their digital competencies in order to ensure that their charges are not denied their educational right. This online cruise that they have been forced to jump aboard have brought out their true professionalism and commitment, mastering skills and competencies as they navigate a course never travelled before.
During these trying times, teachers everywhere mobilised and rose to the enormous challenge at hand, working together to find solutions for remote teaching and learning. Indeed, teachers have gone above and beyond the traditional call of duty to ensure that education continues.
They have and continue to play a critical role in guiding their students and communities through this unprecedented crisis. They have taken the lead with a sense of bravery and courage, reaching out to their students, regardless of their socio-economic status.
Owing to this leadership role assumed by teachers, Education International (EI) has designated “Teachers: leading in crisis, reimaging the future” as the theme for the celebration for World Teachers' Day on October 5.
David Edwards, general secretary of EI, stated, “Teachers have been absolutely outstanding during these incredibly hard times. Now is the time to stand together because together we have the power to effect real change in the world. We are the teaching and learning profession. If the world is to learn the lessons of the pandemic, teachers must take the lead. On October 5th we are getting started.”
This acknowledgement from the head of a global organisation that represents approximately 32 million teachers from over 180 countries is a profound tribute to the world’s teachers, many of whom are underpaid, inadequately trained and under-resourced but who persevere against the odds because they believe that teachers create the future.
Once again teachers have been forced to make a difference in a different world, knowing that the stakes are high and that their students’ hopes and dreams lie in their hands. The nobility of the profession has been given one of its sternest tests and thus far the world’s teachers have emerged with flying colours.
While many yearn for the return of the old order, they would also readily admit that the new challenge has presented an opportunity to eliminate and refine archaic elements of the education system now that they have been given the autonomy and leeway to be resourceful and innovative.
While it is traditional for EI to ask the world on October 5 of each year to spare a thought for teachers and the vitally important work they do, the year 2020 will unquestionably be one that stands out from the perspective of the lengths teachers have been going for their students’ education and the concomitant personal sacrifices they have made and continue to make. They have demonstrated beyond doubt that the new abnormal will not deny children their right to a quality education.
As the world digests and acclimatises to the fundamental adjustments to daily life as we know it, EI implores everyone to join hands with teachers, giving them support in the form of resources and reassurances that their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated.
Teachers, too, will do well to take the lead in extending that critical collegial support, understanding that collaboration and teamwork are the most potent weapons that can be deployed to confront and defeat the current pandemic’s ominous presence in schools. Celebrating one’s own contribution and that of colleagues is a validation that always surpasses financial remuneration. Teachers are reminded that they must appreciate their own worth as a first step to understanding one’s power to make a positive difference and to assume leadership.
On October 5, EI will be hosting the biggest online meeting of teachers in history. This 24-hour live event will give teachers everywhere the opportunity to come together, celebrate their achievements and mobilise to ensure the world addresses the issues the pandemic made painfully clear. The World Teachers' Day event will feature segments highlighting the specific priorities of teachers and their unions from the five regions of EI.
Further details of the event can be obtained at EI website https://www.ei-ie.org.
Happy World Teachers' Day.