Countries’ education system should have crisis-sensitive policies: UNESCO
The events unfolding in Ukraine are a stark reminder that crises can strike at any time and that the education system in all countries must have plans to prepare for, respond to and recover from such emergencies, according to the Global Monitoring Report. Education (GEM) of UNESCO.
Teachers must be equipped to teach in increasingly difficult conditions such as damaged facilities or overcrowded classrooms and be able to differentiate pedagogy to accommodate learners in education systems that use other curricula and languages, he pointed out.
The report comes amid a fierce Russian military offensive in Ukraine, with the civilian toll rising as Moscow seeks to subjugate cities from entrenched positions.
“The events unfolding in Ukraine are stark reminders that crises can strike anytime, anywhere. In addition, other ongoing crises such as COVID-19, various conflicts and disasters around the world, including those due to climate change, all threaten the continuity and quality of education, especially for people displaced,” he said.
The report highlights that in 2021, the UN Refugee Agency reported that more than 84 million people were forcibly displaced around the world. In 2022, this figure is expected to increase, as more than 1.5 million children have already fled Ukraine, according to the report.
“Education systems are often under-prepared for crises, whether it is to accommodate the sudden arrival of refugee children, to protect the safety of learners and teachers, or to have to move quickly to learning remotely,” he said.
“All countries need to have plans to prepare for, respond to and recover from crises, which are lacking in many countries and as a result it complicates already chaotic situations and leaves frontline actors with guidance and limited tools to respond effectively,” he added.
The Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) is produced by an independent team and published by UNESCO. It has a formal mandate to monitor progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal on education.
“As COVID-19 illustrates, teachers, who are themselves affected by the crisis, often act as essential agents of support to colleagues and students. They can foster a sense of safety and normalcy while supporting families and communities with important information. Their support for learners is essential, but teachers can only exploit this role if their needs are taken into account first,” he said.
According to the report, as teachers are affected by the crisis in various ways, they must also receive adequate psychosocial, material and financial support to play the support role that learners need.
“The application of an emergency and crisis-sensitive lens in the development and implementation of national teacher policies is essential to ensure that teachers can act as essential agents of support and protection in order to ensure the continuation of inclusive quality education and promote social cohesion and resilience.
“This involves anticipating and meeting the challenges of recruitment, deployment, retention and training, while ensuring teacher well-being, job security and safe and supportive working conditions” , says the report.
“Teacher policies that take into account the implications of the crisis on the profession can contribute to a motivated and quality workforce. Such policies are essential to ensure that teachers are not only supported and protected, but are also prepared to provide vulnerable children with safe learning spaces and quality education, and thus protect this fundamental right for all”, he added.