by Peace Chisom
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that took up most of the year 2020 are two global events whose effects will perhaps be felt for decades, maybe even centuries, to come. The pandemic as well as the subsequent lockdowns greatly affected and still affect the world around us in many areas, such as the educational sector, especially the teachers.
In geographical areas where the post-pandemic lockdowns lasted longer than sixty days, whether for health or security reasons (Nigeria), learners lost a great deal of learning time. Today, the lost time is sometimes spoken of using phrases like “just one term”, “only one semester”, “just a few weeks”, “only two months”. What such phrases do not do is take cognizance of the long run. Just one term or just a few weeks has cost the world progress that cannot be fully evaluated except through experience. Measuring learning loss then becomes principal, first in assessing the level of damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to the educational sector and then in attempting to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.
Reliefweb (2021) reports that many countries used incentives like financial aid, sanitation and hygiene services, modifications to water, etc., to encourage learners to return to the classroom. Yet there are third world countries where some learners have not gone back to the classroom eighteen months after the COVID-19 virus became a global pandemic, because many have engaged in breadwinning activities to help lift up the economic effects of the pandemic felt till date.
Education recovery focuses on the return of students to the classroom, the reclaiming of lost time, and the reopening of schools in a sustainably safe way. With the government at one end fighting to mitigate the health risks of reopening schools, parents and stakeholders at the other clamouring to keep their children and wards alive and safe, it would seem that the mental well-being, as well as the educational soundness and future economic relevance of learners, are pushed to the back burner or completely ignored.
In such times as these where the world is vulnerable and the eyes of both the government and parents have turned away from tomorrow’s leaders in a fight to save today, teachers have stepped in, oftentimes going above and beyond duty to keep the world rolling forward.
This they have been able to achieve by keeping students and pupils occupied with learning, however discordant and sometimes unsuccessful. Some measures teachers across the globe have taken in a bid to save the day include participating in crash courses in using unfamiliar technologies/tools/mediums to remotely reach their learners and keep them connected to their books, keeping abreast with their learners via social media and other mediums of mass communication, plodding on at the largely underappreciated job of keeping the nation’s education sector going.
Every child has a right to basic education, and there are measures put in place to ensure that these rights are not trampled on, but little to no attention is paid to the teachers who are responsible for raising these children. In third world countries like ours, this negligence may have aided in the adulteration of the world of teachers into something the rest of the country most comfortably ignores. But this ignorance of the place of teachers in education recovery and in rebuilding a world where COVID-19 becomes but does reduce normal living, is merely detrimental to our growth as a nation.
No matter how much is pumped into the educational sector of this country each year, ignored teachers will go on to churn out raw, half-baked, or barely caked leaders of tomorrow, which already puts us at a disadvantage before we even arrive. And this locks the nation in a never-ending battle to save the day because the negligence of the past then becomes the terror of the present and the death of the future.