This year, 18 months into the COVID-19 crisis, UNESCO has dedicated the 2021 World Teachers’ Day held last October 5 to support teachers’ need to fully contribute to the recovery process under the theme “Teachers at the heart of education recovery.” According to UNESCO, with the suspension of in-person classes, around 1.5 billion students from 190 countries were left out of school. In addition to the impacts on learning, the loss of school routine and confinement also negatively impacted the well-being of the younger population. The challenges in education have become one of the most worrisome global effects of the ongoing pandemic.
In addition to this, the Auschwitz Institute recognizes today, October 15, as the National Teachers’ Day in Brazil and honors the effort and work of the teachers worldwide and in the country, particularly during these volatile times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
AIPG’s commitment to supporting teachers and education in Latin America and worldwide include the different projects carried out by the Warren Educational Policies Program – Celebrating the Life of Holocaust Survivor Naomi Kaplan Warren (WEPP). WEPP supports the implementation and integration of educational policies and programming developed for children and young people into broader governmental strategies and school curricula that focus on the prevention of mass atrocities through inclusion and human rights education. These measures place a particular emphasis on the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented concerning social tensions.
At the societal level, the implications of the ongoing pandemic are manifold, including increasing prejudices and discriminatory attitudes, as well as elevated risks for human rights violations and challenges to democratic governance. These are themes that are very relevant to the Citizenship and Democracy in School project that AIPG has been carrying out since 2018 to promote tolerance, constructive engagement, and democratic citizenship among Brazilian youth.
In this sense, the current process of returning to in-person classes also poses new challenges for the educational community, which has begun welcoming students after such a long period away from school. These challenges are especially acute and include situations where students were living under domestic pressures, such as inadequate familial structure, exposure to violent situations, and, in many cases, the loss of family or friends. In these circumstances, it is necessary to make both the classroom and the school environment as a whole, humanized spaces for the encounters that enable the resumption of the school experience.
Taking this entire context into account, on this National Teachers’ Day in Brazil, the Warren Educational Policies Program is proud to launch a specialized Activity Kit for the Return of In-person – Citizenship and Democracy in School to support teachers in welcoming students back to the classroom. The purpose of this material is primarily to help re-establish fundamental relationships and communities that contribute to making the classroom a safe, trustworthy, and respectful environment. Second, but no less important, the activities aim to provoke reflections on the impacts of the crisis, understanding its effects not only as individual experiences but also as communal, national, and global ones.
Through a pedagogical sequence of five activities that adopt an active and participatory methodology, the Auschwitz Institute intends for this kit to help educators, who can and should adapt the activities to their reality, to promote the flexible use of these materials. The included activities are designed in a manner that will allow individual components to be carried out independently, in a modular fashion.
In the spirit of the 2021 Brazilian Teachers’ Day, the Auschwitz Institute celebrates the invaluable role that educators play. To support their efforts, AIPG’s WEPP facilitates the provision of educational tools, the construction of a more prepared and well-informed society, as well as protecting the opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation, including human rights, which contribute to the prevention of future violence.
According to Paula Araújo Alves, Program Assistant of the Warren Educational Policies Program:
In addition to contributing to the students’ return to school, we hope that the kit helps educators reintegrate back into their classrooms after such a long and challenging period. Our aim is to support the vital work they already do every day.
To access the Portuguese-language activity kit for the returning of in-person classes in Brazilian public education during the pandemic, please click here.