Education is a basic human right, a public good and a prerequisite critical in building responsible citizens. Our organization, Humana People to People for close to 30 years has been and still is training teachers, primarily for public primary schools where they are most needed.
On the occasion of marking the International Education Day 2021, on 24 January, under the theme 'Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation,' we reiterate our commitment to stand alongside national governments in delivering education to all. We have taken note of the drastic COVID-19 impact has had in disrupting the lives of many people - with education heavily affected.
The impact of the virus and resulting lockdown measures have not been felt equally, however, with children experiencing perhaps the largest disruptions to their day-to-day lives. According to UNESCO 2020, by April of last year, 91% of students, approximately 1.6 billion were out of school, compounding what was already a dire situation. The learning losses that come with children not being in school have the potential to last a lifetime - extending well beyond this lost year.
“To face the challenges of tomorrow, not only do we need massive investment, but an overhaul of educational systems is necessary,” said the UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
We have been training primary school teachers who are committed to practice their profession in rural and peri-urban communities in Africa and India since 1993.
Our students at Humana People to People Teacher Training Colleges are training to become responsible for the complex and demanding task of teaching. They are trained to manage and convey the curriculum, know each and every student, engage with parents and colleagues, and adapt teaching to suit students’ needs, school conditions and the community environment.
Our 49 Humana People to People Teacher Training Colleges are training 12 500 primary school teachers each year. More than 5 000 primary school teachers graduate every year in Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, India, Guinea Bissau, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Our combined efforts, since 1993 have trained more than 49 000 teachers impacting almost 2 000 000 children with access to education.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call to make education systems more resilient to crisis, and more inclusive, flexible and sustainable. It has shown the capacity of systems to innovate, expanding the frontiers of learning possibilities; the enterprise of teachers to ensure learning continuity; and highlighted the immense value education holds for learners, families and communities.
Our teacher training institutions adapted their training approaches in line with the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. We opted for decongestion of classrooms, migrated to virtual learning as a measure to promote physical distancing, wearing of face masks and hand-sanitising in moments of relaxed lockdown measures by local governments. In Mozambique for example, ADPP Mozambique opted to use radio and television broadcasting in delivering bi-lingual education reaching thousands of early grade primary school children in Maputo and other provinces.
Humana People to People India, one of our members, is collaborating with Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission in Chhattisgarh State in bringing education to students in a safe environment at home and in the village. Through building synergies and decentralising access to education, Humana People to People India use their extensive experience when building capacity of local teachers and volunteers to reach many children disconnected with access to education.
Despite the many micro-level initiatives being pursued in remote communities, there is need to bolster partnerships and actions to carry the shared responsibility in safeguarding education in the wake of COVID-19 attack and other future incidences. We appreciate the noble first steps of the Save Our Future campaign, which has culminated in the UNESCO Global Coalition on Education that has rallied 160 partners since its launch in March 2020. It has brought organisations together to advocate and galvanize support to education. We find it critical for the multi-lateral organisations and the international development partners to support education in the developing countries in:
- Taking every measure to reopen schools safely and inclusively;
- Supporting all teachers as frontline workers and prioritizing their training and professional development;
- Investing in skills development for inclusive recovery;
- Narrowing the digital divide that has prevented one third of the world’s students from accessing education during school closures;
- Protecting if not increasing education budgets; ensuring that stimulus packages support measures to mitigate learning losses and get the most vulnerable back to school; and increasing the volume, effectiveness and predictability of aid to education.
We call upon the international community and the national governments to ensure that learning systems and structures are built back better to reflect the lived experiences of children around the world, particularly in already-struggling fragile and disadvantaged community settings.
Humana People to People stands alongside the millions of committed teachers as the world commemorates World Teachers’ Day annually on 5 October. Education is a powerful tool in the hands of the people striving for a better life, and has a long-term positive impact on development.
In 2020, World Teachers’ Day is being celebrated amidst a strenuous COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the education sector globally. In 2020, the world honors and celebrates the remarkable work done by teachers under the theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”.
World Teachers’ Day unveils an opportunity to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide and take stock of achievements made, drawing attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education targets to support billions of learners to access education – a basic human right. The 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 focuses not only on access to education, but inclusive and equitable education, promoting life-long learning opportunities for all.
World Teachers’ Day 2020 provides a unique opportunity to spotlight the role of teachers in leading during crisis, building resilience and shaping the future of education.
In 2016, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) revealed that, the world faces an acute shortage of qualified teachers. It estimated that 69 million teachers would need to be recruited to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.
According to the International Task Force for Teachers Education 2030, as of 25 March 2020, 165 countries closed their schools because of the COVID-19 crisis, affecting nearly 1.5 billion students and 63 million school teachers.
Humana People to People Teacher Training Programme
For the past 27 years, Humana People to People has been training primary school teachers who are committed to practice their profession in some of the remotest communities in Africa and India. The first Humana People to People Teacher Training College started in Maputo, Mozambique in 1993.
Currently 49 Teacher Training Colleges train 12,500 primary school teachers each year. More than 5 000 primary school teachers graduate every year in Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, India, Guinea Bissau, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Since inception of the programme in 1993 more than 49 000 teachers have been trained.
Humana People to People developed a Teacher Training Programme which is driven by the desire to unleash each student/learner’s potential in the whole process of capacity building. Humana People to People’s pedagogy is characterised by creating a space for students of all ages to be the drivers and navigators of their own training, in a collective setting where studying together and individually go hand in hand.
Exploring the reality of life and using what is learned to influence that reality are essential recognisable elements cutting across practical as well as academic studies.
Teachers at Humana People to People Teacher Training Colleges are responsible for the complex and demanding task of delivering good quality teaching. They are trained to manage and convey the curriculum, know each and every student, engage with parents and colleagues, and adapt the teaching to suit students’ needs, school conditions and the community environment. They are trained to be dynamic community members, and are well connected to parents, colleagues and others in the community. Their training equips them to handle complexities and challenges confronted.
Responding to COVID-19 impact on education
COVID-19 has had a staggering impact on education and the teaching sector, leading to the near-total closures of schools, universities and colleges. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. As of September 2020, approximately 1.277 billion learners are currently affected due to school closures in response to the pandemic.
The ripple effect of students falls on teachers, with many teachers still affected by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. With colleges closed following national government imposed emergency lockdowns, education routines were cancelled and curriculum disrupted, heavily affecting the teaching sector. The closures pose unprecedented challenges as they are likely to exacerbate the global learning crisis, adding to global education inequalities.
Teacher leadership in relation to crisis response becomes critical in terms of the contributions teachers make to provide remote learning, support vulnerable populations, re-open schools, and ensure that learning gaps have been mitigated. As witnessed in most of Humana People to People Teacher Training Colleges, adaption and mitigation measures were formulated. Thus virtual learning options were established to keep the student and teacher in constant communication. For others, pre-arranged homework plans were developed and agreements put in-place for supervision, feedback and new assignments.
Food for Knowledge (FfK) is an ADPP Mozambique implemented, Planet Aid led programme, run in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Human Development whilst funded by United States Department of Agriculture. The programme has, for the past four years, been implementing a bilingual education component in early grades of primary schooling in Maputo, Mozambique. To mitigate COVID-19 effects, the FfK programme, started broadcasting bilingual education classes through community radio stations and television. This new development proves that innovation and readiness to transform is essential when faced by a crisis.
Supporting teachers in developing their profession
Humana People to People went a step further by creating support mechanisms for its graduated teachers to create linkages, share best practices and continue exploring new education approaches relevant to increasing demands in the daily work of teachers. The Network of Graduated Teachers is a pillar of strength to scores of practicing teachers who work in remotely located communities.
As such, teachers organise themselves in core groups and meet once a month. They discuss challenges faced, formulate solutions, and present breakthroughs in classroom teaching and school management initiatives. The continuous training approach of the Network of Graduated Teachers is linked to a Humana People to People Teacher Training College and the national department of further education at district level for building synergy and co-creation.
Leadership qualities acquired by the teachers graduating from Humana People to People Teacher Training Colleges has seen some teachers assuming influencing decision making positions at the schools they are assigned. In Malawi, George Mhango and Henry N’gombe are two former graduates who have become a deputy headmaster and a district sports organizing chairperson respectively for the Blantyre rural district.
Their resourcefulness and ability to organise communities to engage in school development as well as dealing with existing social challenges hampering community development are commendable.
A call to increase global education funding
Investing in education is investing in people, in the community and in the nation. It is our collective effort therefore to ensure innovative ways to acquire and sustain education funding in order to achieve equitable and quality education. Increasing the number of qualified and motivated teachers, to deal with the global learning crisis can last for several generations, and make a tangible difference, especially for the disadvantaged.