Support for teachers is crucial as schools reopen

Support for teachers is crucial as schools reopen

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Support for teachers

Teacher’s role in education

The role of a teacher is to shape the minds of the younger generation. That shaping will be on positive lines, development of a scientific and humanistic attitude and temper, self discipline. For developing such laboratories teachers have to play a key role in modern society.

The Challenges:

  • Teachers are underpaid, benefits are always unstable and the workload keeps increasing.
  • The pandemic increased the stress levels of teachers due to the introduction of virtual classes along
  • Management often directs their frustrations onto teachers

Teachers Support

India needs 11.16 lakh extra teachers to meet the shortfall:

The proportion of teachers employed in the private sector grew from 21% in 2013-14 to 35% in 2018-19, a UNESCO report said. It also said the requirement of teachers in these schools fell by 10%, as against 6% in government schools. The Right to Education Act stipulates that the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) should be 30:1 in classes 1-5 and 35:1 in higher grades.

The researchers also calculated that the average salary of private school teachers in the country (primary and secondary) is Rs 13,564, with rural private school teachers earning less at Rs 11,584. Women teachers in rural private schools earn an average of Rs 8212 per month, according to the report, ‘State of the Education Report for India-2021’, focused on teachers.

It is primarily based on an analysis of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) and the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data. The was a collaboration of a team from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, led by Prof Padma M Sarangapani with UNESCO.

Also Read: 6 ways to keep students and teachers motivated and happy as they get back to schools

 

Support required for teachers:

Across the world, millions of teachers, education support staff, and learners are returning to classrooms as schools reopen after closures due to Covid- 19 crisis. 

From the beginning of the crisis, teachers have been vital to ensure learning continues through distance learning, where feasible, and that learners’ well-being is considered. With the return to schools, teachers, school leaders, and education support staff will play key roles in creating safe learning spaces for marginalized learners.

1. Health and Safety

As schools reopen, the health of School staff and students is on top priority. In particular, international organisations (World Health Organization) released Covid-19 guidelines, in which it is mentioned that teachers and education support staff cooperate with school leaders to ensure their own safety and that of students and other colleagues.

2. Social Emotional well-being for teachers

The covid-19 pandemic may result in psychological distress for teachers and their families. Teacher distress can stem from both the related health risks and the increased workload of teaching in new and challenging ways with inadequate training. This can lead to burnout, resulting in high rates of absenteeism, and can even lead some teachers to leave their job.

  • Prioritize support for teachers’ physiological and social-emotional well-being over academic obligation and provide teachers with guidelines for teaching, learning, and assessment. Guarantee that teachers continue to receive regular salaries and benefits to avoid uncertainties. Where possible, streamline administrative paperwork and reduce reporting obligations.
  • Ensure resources are made available for teachers to receive psychological and social-emotional support and train school leaders and teachers, in collaboration with teacher training institutions, to recognize signs of distress in both staff and learners and their actions.
  • Train teachers for emergency responses, innovation, and alternative teaching methods. Review, along with teacher representative organisations and teacher educators, current teacher policies and development frameworks to update provisions for distance education and education in emergencies to strengthen the resilience of education systems. Cooperate with teacher training institutes to enhance training and tools that reinforce teachers’ capacity for pedagogical innovation, including digital literacy and child-centered teaching skills.
  • Peer support network for teachers and promote collaboration to share common best practices in return to school.

3. Right working conditions for teachers

The necessary health and safety precautions, including physical distancing. School reopening can reveal gaps in human resources and create difficult working schedules and routines. With education systems already under strain, there is a risk that decision-makers could choose this moment to reduce costs, and risk teachers’ rights and working conditions. Education authorities should:

  • Ensure sufficient teaching staff and support personnel. If teacher gaps are identified, develop rapid recruitment strategies including temporary contract teachers, substitute teachers, and teaching aides, in dialogue with teacher representative organisations. Deploy teaching staff based on minimum professional qualifications.
  • Preserve teachers’ rights by ensuring that salaries and benefits- including sick leaves and medical benefits-are provided according to standards set out by leadership management, including during the periods of school closure or individual isolation due to the pandemic.
  • Support teachers and education staff with family responsibilities through flexible working arrangements, especially for women, who often bear the majority of family duties 

4. Monitoring and evaluation

As schools reopen, it will be critical to monitor and evaluate the situation and adapt as necessary. School leaders should develop frameworks for measuring and benchmarking processes during the different planned phases. They should take into account teachers’ roles in providing quality teaching and fostering a safe learning environment. 

  • Continually assess health risks and protective factors to monitor teacher and learner absence to track the incidence and progression of illness and assess the need for psychological support.
  • Develop and implement systems to monitor teachers’ situation using any education or teacher management information systems, related to deployment, teacher rights, and working conditions (including working and teaching hours). Develop proxy indicators for stress associated with changing roles and responsibilities, and concerns related to health and well-being and monitor training interventions to support teachers in their return to school.

It’s time we see this as a situation to give back to the teacher fraternity for their support through the distressing pandemic. Support would bring back people to the profession and enable them to see this phase as an opportunity to try their hands in building a unique model of learning in classrooms as well as when required; virtually.

For this level of trust and faith, the authorities need to be more mindful and supportive and must act as caregivers. Open-door policy can play an important role in this aspect, where voices are heard, there are equal rights and opportunities to explore new possibilities.

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