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Covid-19: Tabichi calls for long term education plan for Africa

Saturday May 16 2020
Tabichi

The world's best teacher, brother Peter Mokaya Tabichi, celebrates with his students at Keriko Mixed Secondary School at Pwani village in Njoro, Nakuru County, on April 4, 2019 after winning the Sh100 million Varkey Foundation global teacher award. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By FRANCIS MUREITHI

The 2019 Global Teacher Award winner Peter Tabichi has joined African top tutors to address education among the poor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brother Tabichi a Franciscan Brother is a teacher of Mathematics and Physics at Keriko Secondary School in Pwani Village, Nakuru County.

He won Sh100 million prize for turning around the fortunes of poor students who went on to win prizes at national and international science and engineering fairs.

FIND SOLUTIONS

He was among 20 African Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize finalists who met virtually on Friday for the first time to address the challenges in a sector that has been ravaged by Covid-19.

“I was very proud to join the Varkey Foundation’s virtual summit on the future of education in light of coronavirus,” said Brother Tabichi.

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“Governments should find solutions to help children continue with education at home, especially for millions of learners across Africa who lack internet access. When the pandemic ends, governments must protect education budgets to ensure we do not lose the future to protect the present,” he added.

Other leading African teachers in the last six years who joined Brother Tabichi included South African history teacher Marjorie Brown, Tanzanian Science and Mathematics teacher Malima Chisumo, Sierra Leone’s Miriam Mason-Sesay, Ghana’s Sitsofe Anku who is a Mathematics teacher and Nigeria’s Itodo Anthony who teaches the virtues of justice.

QUALITY EDUCATION

The virtual summit on coronavirus and the future of education in Africa was organised by the Varkey Foundation which is a member of United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Education Coalition.

The teachers urged governments to deliver quality remote education and cautioned against any cuts to education budgets.

They urged African governments to speed up the re-opening of schools and provide solutions to delivering quality remote education.

In Kenya, about 15 million primary and secondary school learners are facing an unprecedented crisis after schools were closed on March 15 following coronavirus outbreak.

Over 1.5 billion learners globally have been affected by Covid-19, according to Unesco.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has indicated that reopening of schools will depend on how Covid-19 pandemic is managed.

The Education CS has appointed a 10-member task force to look into ways of re-opening the schools and Kenyans have been urged to submit their recommendations to Dr Sara Ruto led task force before the May 22 deadline.

However, as the task force rushes against time, thousands of Kenyan learners cannot access e-learning due to poverty, and lack of internet connectivity.

According to Unesco, about 200 million learners in Africa have no access to the internet

The teachers said despite the internet challenges, poor learners must not be denied education opportunities during this pandemic period.

VULNERABLE TEACHERS

“Lost school days should not turn into a lost generation,” said the teachers in a statement.

At the same time the teachers urged the African governments to increase free school feeding programmes and ensure there is a safe environment for teachers training pupils online.

The celebrated teachers urged governments to protect vulnerable teachers from the threat of Covid-19 when schools reopen.

Other solutions the teachers suggested include delivering quality remote education to children with focus on quality using the mass media.  

They also called for a review of the current curricula and testing methods when schools reopen around the world.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Unesco assistant Director-General for Education, Stefania Giannini, said the teachers’ call was timely.

“I welcome this timely and vital call to action by these teachers from across Africa, where training and professional development needs are particularly acute,” said Dr Giannini.

Dr Giannini, who is also adviser to the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, said during this sudden and unprecedented disruption to global education, children and young people all over the world, especially the most marginalised and disadvantaged should not be denied opportunity to education.

“Governments must listen and act decisively to ensure that every student receives their birthright of a good education, even when their schools are closed,” said Dr Giannini who is a former Italian Minister of Education, Universities and Research.

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