Recognising teachers today, but supporting teachers every day
Today, on World Teachers’ Day, let us come together as a global community to recognise the work of teachers in crisis contexts across the world and commit to working together to strengthen support to these teachers every single day.
World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers and is an important opportunity to shine a light on the teaching profession worldwide. This is particularly timely given the impact of covid-19 on education systems throughout the globe. Here at INEE we would like to particularly call attention to the many teachers already working in contexts of armed conflict, forced displacement, climate change induced disaster and protracted crisis, and now facing the additional challenges posed by the covid-19 health pandemic. Hear a message from our Director Dean Brooks:
In Education in Emergencies (EiE) contexts, teachers act as first line responders and protectors to the children and young people in their care every day. In the pandemic their creativity, innovation and commitment have continued, as they provide life saving messages, work with parents and communities to continue education delivery, master new technologies and develop innovative approaches, and risk their own lives to ensure safe returns to school. Hear more from teachers working in these settings in this video from Education Cannot Wait:
And yet, INEE members will know that too often teachers in EiE contexts receive minimal attention and support. In today’s Op-Ed ‘Teachers Shoulder the Burden: Improving Support in Crisis Contexts’ Yasmine Sheriff, Dean Brooks and Mary Mendenhall set out how and why this must change. They provide five concrete actions we all must take if we are to better support teachers in crisis contexts and ensure quality education for all.
INEE is committed to supporting our members to make this call to action a reality for teachers and learners. You can access open source tools and support via our teacher resource collection here, and you can find out more about the Teachers in Crisis Contexts Collaborative (an inter-agency group working to provide more and better support to teachers in crisis settings) who will be escalating activities on teacher well-being and teacher advocacy in the coming months here. I would also encourage you to explore our teacher stories, where teachers such as Mading (an inspiring South Sudanese teacher in Kakuma Refugee camp Kenya), write so candidly about their work and experiences: ‘These children have been robbed of their childhoods by conflict. The only thing that can solve this is education and that is what I want...[and] that's why I and my colleagues wake up in the morning and come to school ready to do our work’.
So let us join with INEE members to celebrate teachers like Mading and his colleagues today. You can hear educators from around the world during Education International's 24 hour live event here, you can find details of UNESCO’s week long series of events here, and you can get involved in the Save Our Futures Campaign using #unsungheroes across social media. There are important tools and resources (such as this fact sheet) available on the UNESCO Teacher Task Force website, and you can hear important words from refugee teachers in West and Central Africa via UNHCR here. This is just a snapshot of the activities happening this week and we will continue to collect and share resources from network members via inee.org.
And let us work together in the coming week and months to transform the support given to teachers in crisis contexts every day. As Yasmine, Dean and Mary write, Despite the compounding impact of COVID-19, it has also heightened our awareness of the vital role that teachers play. Now more than ever, we have a chance to transform education systems through the support we provide to teachers. Let us work together to do just that. Teachers around the world deserve nothing less.
Charlotte Bergin is INEE's Capacity Building Coordinator and is an experienced teacher, trainer and EiE practitioner. She has been an active member of INEE for many years, in particular working closely with the Teachers in Crisis Contexts Collaborative. Charlotte completed her own teacher training at the University of Cambridge and her MA in International Educational Development at Teachers College - Columbia University.