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Thursday, October 21, 2021

‘Teachers need to be recognised as frontline workers’

There is an immediate need to recognise teachers as frontline workers, said Nicole Bella, Chief of Education and Senior Education Specialist, UNESCO.

Written by Ruchika Goswamy | Pune |
Updated: October 8, 2021 7:13:48 am
Teachers welcome students at a school in Mumbai

Teachers need to be recognised as frontline workers, their terms of employment need to improved both in public and private schools, and their professional autonomy should be valued. These were some of the key recommendations of the ‘No teacher, No class — State of Education Report 2021’, the third collaborative flagship report by UNESCO and Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education (CETE), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which was officially released on International Teachers Day on Tuesday, October 5.

There is an immediate need to recognise teachers as frontline workers, said Nicole Bella, Chief of Education and Senior Education Specialist, UNESCO.

“We found that no teacher in the private sector benefits from medical insurance/coverage. Even in the public sector and for contractual teachers, we did not find benefits of any kind. We want education as we cannot have schools shut indefinitely but we also need to ensure our teachers are protected for their own good as well as for the students that they work with,” said Padma M Sarangapani, Professor of Education and Chairperson, CETE, and chief author of the research.

For the research, Sarangapani and her team of co-authors — Bindu Thirumalai, Anusha Ramanathan, Ruchi Kumar and Mythili Ramchand — relied extensively on three distinct sources: data from Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) and the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE), authentic groundwork and telephonic interviews.

“Many of the students, especially from marginalised areas, are first-generation learners. They seek attention and that is only possible when the Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) is lowered and for that, there is a great need to recruit more teachers…There is also a dire need to improve the working conditions of teachers, especially in particular geographical areas,” said Noopur, Executive Director, National Coalition for Education (NCE).

“We need teachers for the 21st century. It is the change (that’s needed) not (just) in terms of curriculum but also how teachers can be developed professionally,” said Ranjitsinh Disale, winner of Global Teacher Prize-2020 at the virtual event.

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