Covid-19 fight continues: Iraq teachers receive the tools they need to succeed

Published: Apr 23, 2021 Reading time: 4 minutes
Covid-19 fight continues: Iraq teachers receive the tools they need to succeed
© People in Need

For more than a year now, COVID-19 is a reality engrained in our day-to-day lives – and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. Despite this sad fact, we have learnt that we need to be creative and get the most benefits we can from the tools at our disposal. This is no less true than for students and teachers around the globe struggling not to fall behind.

At the start of the Spring semester this year, most schools in Iraq had partially re-opened as the education system adopted a hybrid model of part-time in-person classes and part-time distance education. With the onslaught of rising COVID-19 cases, however, schools have closed their doors once again, forcing students from all grades to shift back to full-time distance education. The success of these students enduring a turbulent year is only possible through dedicated teachers, who implement new learning technique using technology in the best way they can to deliver classes to students.

“It seems that this pandemic affects every human being on this planet,” explains Faza’a, a math teacher at a primary school in a Nineveh village. “It certainly affects our children, and us [in Iraq] especially since we are still suffering from the effects of the conflict with the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ (ISIL), which are psychological and economical.”

Thanks to funds from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), in partnership with Intersos and local NGOs Sorouh for Sustainable Development Foundation (SSDF) and Public Aid Organization (PAO), PIN is providing educators in four districts across Mosul, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Salah Al Din with the tools and techniques they need to implement the most successful distance learning curriculum possible, despite the many challenges they face. PIN aims to train 360 teachers in 36 schools, helping 7920 students continue their classes.

“This training has helped us identify the simple ways in which lessons can be delivered to students if strong Internet is available or not,” Faza’a details, emphasizing how the most challenging aspect of distance learning for his students is strong and stable internet as well as access to a smartphone device. From this training, teachers from the Department of Education learn a PIN-designed remote-teaching methodology so children can continue their education both online and offline from the safety of their homes while COVID-19 continues to affect us.

“We live in a rapidly changing world and technology is the only weapon we have to keep up with this constant change,” Faza’a continues, “so I prefer distance learning as it allows us to discover new ways of delivering classes to students in difficult conditions, like a pandemic.”

“The teacher should be a role model for her/his students, and that’s what motivated me to be a teacher in the first place,” says Jamillah, an Arabic teacher in a school in Tal-Afar sub district. “We have to provide students with the proper education they need, and follow up on the latest technology, so we can continue to remain a role model for them.”

The pandemic has had a major influence on children, who suffer not only from the lost ability to see, play, and learn with their friends, but also from the learning curve of a completely new teaching method all together – especially a heavily technology-reliant one. “If I were a student now, I would really suffer as all students are suffering from the lack of proper equipment that enable them to continue their learning,” Jamillah says.

However, she points out, there are some noticeably positive elements to this new method. “Not all the students are on the same level,” Jamillah explains, “and sometimes they are shy to ask the teacher to repeat the topics or to answer some questions. But with distance learning, students can now watch the lesson as much as they want and they can reach us easily for any question they have.”

“We faced many challenges with the students, the parents, and ourselves because it is a new thing and we didn’t know how to deal with it, but thanks to the training we are now able to continue delivering classes,” Jamillah says happily. Thanks to UNOCHA, our partners, and the Education Cluster in Iraq.

Author: Hussain Saad and Majd Zaghir, People in Need

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