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New task forces to help 2.7 million teachers in India hit by COVID-19 lockdown

The data reveal the scale of the challenge as teachers are forced to adapt to remote learning when many lack the training needed

By: PTI | London | Published: May 28, 2020 8:55:48 pm
UNESCO, teacher, teacher training, online teacher training, education news 2.7 million Indian teachers hit due to coronavirus (Representational image)

An estimated 2.7 million teachers in India who have been impacted by the coronavirus lockdown are untrained to deal with the altered situation, new research from the UNESCO revealed on Thursday, as it unveiled new task forces to tackle the teachers’ training across the world.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) data, launched at the Teachers of the World Unite virtual summit this week, highlighted that 9.1 million teachers across the world who have been impacted by the pandemic-related school closures, out of a total of 63 million affected teachers, are untrained in coping with the challenge.

At the summit, the UK-based Varkey Foundation announced the nine new teacher task forces on coronavirus and the future of education, which will be coordinated in collaboration with UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force.

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“New data from UNESCO’s teacher task force show 2.7 million teachers in India who have been impacted by coronavirus school closures are untrained. The data reveal the scale of the challenge as teachers are forced to adapt to remote learning when many lack the training needed,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education.

“I, therefore, welcome these nine new teacher task forces launched by the Varkey Foundation as a member of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition. These task forces will examine a number of crucial issues in India, not least training for teachers to teach online, providing reliable internet access for all, and finding solutions to keep children learning where there is no internet,” she said.

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The 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.

“In examining these key issues, it is vital that we are able to hear from teachers in India who can provide their unique perspectives from the frontlines in these unprecedented times,” added Giannini.

The nine areas to be covered include reliable internet access for all; solutions to keep children learning where there is no internet; no education cuts; a safe environment for teachers and pupils; lost school days should not turn into a lost generation; training to teach online; training to safeguard children online; nutritious free meals; and fast-track edtech strategies.

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The virtual summit to unveil these was opened by Sunny Varkey, the Indian-origin Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize.

During the session, UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force also presented teachers with a draft toolkit of practical tips and checklists for school leaders to ensure they are supported and protected as schools begin to re-open. Participants were able to provide feedback to help improve this toolkit before a wider release.

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