Iraq: Education union mobilizes to support teachers and students during pandemic
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union has been working tirelessly to ensure the safety of school communities, secure financial support for educators and continued education for students. Early on, the Education International member organization advocated for schools and universities in the Kurdistan region to close in order to protect the health and safety of students, staff and entire communities. The regional government implemented the school closures on 25 February. On social media, the union launched an information campaign to raise awareness of the basic steps every person can take to stem the spread of the virus.
While public health is the clear priority, quarantine measures have resulted in financial difficulties for many families, including those of teachers. The union’s efforts to convince the government to expedite the salaries of education workers have been successful, providing much-needed relief to many.
In terms of the provision of education during the closures, the Ministry of Education is exploring distance learning solutions to limit the disruptions. However, the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union has expressed concerns about the effectiveness and equity of distance learning, considering that many families and students do not have the devices and internet connection needed to access online education.
Instead, the union has proposed extending the academic year and providing televised lessons in order to reach the largest possible number of students. Educators are also encouraged to get in touch with their students in whatever ways are available to provide guidance and support. The Kurdistan Teachers’ Union continues to work with the government to develop solutions for continued education during the crisis.