Teachers, Students, and Public Education in the Fight Against COVID-19
At its peak, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic left over 1.6 billion school children out of school for several weeks, and almost all universities and colleges around the world closed, affecting learning on a scale never seen before. As the second wave of the pandemic gains momentum this November, almost 1 billion children are still affected by closures and partial closures, their rights to health, safety, and education presenting profound policy challenges.
These disruptions to education have exposed longstanding social inequalities and have also brought the role of education into sharper focus. Schools and universities sit at the center of our communities and are places where multiple rights are fulfilled, including those around health, food security, and freedom of information. They also act as sites of protection against different forms of violence, and help to build the values, ideas, and commitments that support democratic societies and the sustainability of life on earth. More than providing skills for the job market and passing exams, education can promote critical thinking, foster democracy, enrich shared cultures, and prepare young people for living in a time of climate emergency.
This conversation will examine what we can learn from the COVID-19 shutdowns, and will discuss the urgent need to reopen learning institutions confidently and safely. We will also explore the experiences of teacher and student organizations in responding to COVID-19, the vital contribution of care workers and health workers, and the urgent need to harness the potential of education technology to reshape it for the betterment of society.
Leonard Benardo is executive vice president for programs at the Open Society Foundations.
Camilla Croso is director of the Open Society Education Program.
David Edwards is general secretary of Education International.
Amina J. Mohammed
Amina J. Mohammed is deputy secretary-general of the United Nations.
Amilcar Sanatan is a representative of the Global Student Forum.
Nicolás Trotta is the minister of education in Argentina.
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