As we celebrate World Teachers’ Day on 5 October 2020, we’d like to highlight their essential role in quality education. In the context of the current global crisis, many have had to adapt and reinvent the way they work. Chandy teaches children with disabilities in Cambodia and over the last six months, the impact of Covid-19 has changed her daily life and ways of teaching.
25-years-old mother-of-one Horm Chandy is a teacher in the village of Kravien, in Kampong Speu province, not far from the capital Phnom Penh. She works with children with disabilities, in a class developed by Aide et Action and Rabbit School Organisation, intended to integrate children with disabilites into public schools and offer them a more inclusive education. Following the COVID-19 crisis, she had to change her teaching methods.
“I teach, along with another teacher, a class of 10 students aged 4 to 9, all living with various disabilities such as autism and other intellectual disabilities,” says Chandy. “Our teaching strategies are designed to meet the specific needs of all children as their abilities vary. But when schools closed last March due to COVID-19, students were not able to return to class.”
Home visits and support
Schools reopened in Cambodia in early September. But in the months preceding the reopening, Chandy spent two days a week visiting her students at their homes and giving them homework and exercises. For those who needed special attention, I went visited them as regularly as she could.
In some cases, she taught parents how to teach their children from home. Sometimes, some of them recorded videos and sent them to her to show her their children’s progress. But it’s very difficult to teach like that. “The longer the children stayed at home, the less improvement there was. I was really worried about their development and their education,” says Chandy.
However, Chandy was able to see some positive effects related to the crisis such as increasing the time parents spend with their children and improving parent-child relationships. “Personally, the crisis has led me to develop more flexible learning strategies. This is a good opportunity to try new technologies and develop my computer skills. With the support of Aide et Action and Rabbit School, I got access to online learning tools and was able to share files on digital platforms, which I had never done before. I have also used video and social media as new ways of communicating with parents. “
Shapers of the future
The theme for the 2020 edition of World Teachers’ Day is Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future. On this occasion, UNESCO asserts that the leadership of teachers is “critical in terms of the contributions teachers have made to provide remote learning, support vulnerable populations, re-open schools, and ensure that learning gaps have been mitigated”.
Thank you to Horm Chandy and the many other teachers we work with who, despite the crisis, continue to carry out their essential mission with strength and dedication.