Teachers honoured by a global education prize have called on governments to provide reliable internet access for all pupils during the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 100 finalists of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize have called for support for the 706 million pupils worldwide who remain without internet access while schools are closed.
They are also calling for governments to rule out cuts to education budgets and for them to review the curriculum when pupils return to school to ensure no pupils are left behind by the crisis.
The calls were made as part of a virtual summit attended by Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Yasmine Sherif, director of Education Cannot Wait, and Stefania Giannini, Unesco's assistant director-general of education.
Sunny Varkey, the founder of education charity the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize, opened the summit.
Jamie Frost, a London maths teacher whose free platform DrFrostMaths has been downloaded 6 million times, joined the summit as one of the top fifty finalists of this year's prize.
He was joined by Débora Garofalo, a 2019 top ten finalist teacher from Brazil whose lessons focused on transforming rubbish into robots, and Peter Tabichi, the 2019 Global Teacher Prize winner and a Kenyan science teacher who led his pupils to success in international science fairs.
Following the summit, winners and finalists from the past six years signed a call for governments to ensure:
- Reliable internet access for all pupils.
- Help for pupils to continue learning if they have no internet at home.
- No education cuts.
- A safe environment for teachers and pupils when schools reopen.
- A review of curricula so that there is not a "lost generation" as a result of the crisis.
- Training for teachers on online learning.
- Training for teachers on online safeguarding.
- Protected funding for free school meals.
- Developing a strategy on edtech.
Andreas Schleicher said: “The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the inequalities in the global education system.
"By supporting young people online with the right resources, the disruption to education wrought by mass school closures can be minimised. But the millions of young people who do not have access to the internet risk being left behind unless we act decisively."
Stefania Giannini said: “I welcome this timely and vital call to action by these inspirational teachers from every corner of the globe. This virtual summit helps put the teacher voice at the heart of our mission to champion inclusive learning opportunities for children and young people all over the world during this sudden and unprecedented disruption to global education.
Yasmine Sherif, director of Education Cannot Wait, said: “Covid-19 represents an education crisis for the whole of humanity, but no one more so than the world’s most vulnerable people: forcibly displaced and crisis-affected children and youth, especially girls who are the most exposed."