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Iraq: Safety and continuity at heart of KTU guidelines for new school year

The Kurdistan Teachers’ Union (KTU) seeks continuity of education and improved terms and conditions for teachers and students in its proposals for the 2020-2021 academic year. The union’s plans aim to ensure health and safety in schools and quality education.

Salaries, safety, and reviews of study plans, timetables, and curricula are central aspects of the KTU’s proposals for the coming academic year. 
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on all aspects of life, especially the education process,” said KTU President Abdalwahed M. Haje. “We must not stand hopeless in front of this pandemic and wait for fate to reduce its impact or cure it.” 
According to Haje, KTU members should be proactive, work hard at branch level, and seek effective solutions to safeguard health and the education process. 
Key KTU proposals 
To best continue the education process, the KTU is proposing that: 
  • Educators’ salaries should be paid every 30 days, without deduction, for motivation and the continuity of school hours as necessary. 
  • The safety of students and educators should be protected. This requires safe learning and teaching environments, including cleaning, fumigating, and arranging classrooms, teachers’ rooms and the school leaders’ offices, with social distancing and time needed for studying. For example, it is possible to increase the number of classes or split attendance in two shifts. The KTU is also calling for the provision of masks, gloves, and sterilisation materials, as well as a medical specialist in education institutions. 
  • The curriculum should be reviewed in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the curriculum could focus on major, important topics. And, activities that do not affect the content of the curriculum and lead to difficulties in protecting and distancing from each other, such as group sports activities, could be cancelled. 
  • Lesson timetables should be modified through reducing study times by amending the lesson schedule, developing the relationships between teachers and students through communication via social networks or other electronic means, and other methods. It should be possible to implement a mixed system, completing what is studied in the classroom through electronic learning and teaching means. 
  • New study plans and evaluation methods should be applied. The ministry and concerned parties could provide that teachers be trained in e-learning and online lessons. Taking the experience of the teacher into account, providing permanent Internet access, and providing classes with smartphones, tablets and laptops, should also be considered. 
  • International and national guidelines for the elimination of the COVID-19 pandemic should be fully implemented. Serious attention must be given to ways to prevent infection and to facilitate research related to the pandemic by the health community and specialists. And, efforts must be undertaken to guarantee personal safety, especially in educational institutions. 
  • The expertise and experiences of international organisations, private institutions, and teachers’ organisations should be considered.