This post is the 10th in a blog series published in 2020 in the context of a collaboration between the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
October 5th marks World Teachers Day, an annual commemoration of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation about the Status of Teachers. With the theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”, this year’s celebrations take place in a world completely changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we celebrate World Teachers Day, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of our teachers in building resilience and shaping the future of education during a time of immense change and disruption.
Adapting to new teaching conditions during the crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the provision of primary and secondary education across Africa. More than 250 million primary and secondary school children in Africa are not attending school. In many countries, lockdown measures implemented to curb the spread of the virus has left many schools still closed and unable to accommodate learners.
While many schools implemented remote learning practices to ensure continuity of learning during the lockdown, many children – especially in rural and poorer areas – simply do not have access to the tools and connectivity needed for remote learning.
In many cases, teachers have done their best to rise to the challenge, recording lessons for TV or radio programs, connecting with their students over the phone, hosting “call-in” events for students with questions, and even visiting their students in remote areas.
However, a shortage of teachers is complicating matters. A 2016 UNESCO study found that nearly 69 million new teachers are needed by 2030 to provide every child with primary and secondary school education. In sub-Saharan Africa, 70% of countries face shortages of teachers - at secondary level, this rises to 90% of countries.
Teachers are indispensable in the fight for quality education for all and the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, as well as SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.