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The central role played by educators in relation to our children’s development is unquestionable. For many students – young and mature – teachers are the adults they interact with the most, often more than they do with their own parents or caregivers. Teachers shape students’ attitudes, they teach them new things and make learning fun. 

Effective teachers also support the development of crucial life skills such as teamwork and critical thinking, that help prepare children and young people for a world where they must interact with others and adapt quickly to change. The role of teachers is therefore quite complex. Teachers are expected to constantly evolve to meet the increasingly changing needs or a world where success will hinge on knowledge just as much as on attitudes and behaviour.

Never has this been truer than in the midst of a global pandemic. The challenges of COVID-19 have served to reinforce the irreplaceable and multi-faceted role of teachers in not only facilitating and guiding learning, but also in supporting students’ wellbeing and their socioemotional development. As many parents were suddenly forced to play full-time teachers for the first time using previously unfamiliar digital platforms – if these were even available – whilst grappling with teleworking, the appreciation for teachers and their efforts spread around the globe.

Throughout the past nearly two years, there have been countless inspiring examples all over the world of teachers going above and beyond to reach learners, provide socioemotional support, as well as leverage technology creatively in order to minimize learning disruption.

The importance of the involvement of teachers in educating students about the climate, cannot be overstated. Historically the education sector has been known to be slow in embracing its role in fighting climate change, however, this is changing. At the recently held COP26 in Scotland, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education of Sierra Leone, David Moinina Sengeh stressed that climate education needs to be at the heart of education systems. He proposed that climate education indicators be included in education systems, in order for true and lasting change to take place. This will have to be mainstreamed into core curriculum materials at all levels and will require extensive teacher training. Something that Dubai Cares spoke about at the Climate Change Forum at the World Government Summit 2019 in Dubai, and which we will continue to advocate for in the build-up to COP28 that will be hosted here in the UAE.

What is clear then is that well-prepared, supported, and empowered teachers are essential for both the future of our children, and that of our planet. So what can we do to ensure this?

In a recent study, the World Bank, UNICEF and UNESCO have identified three priorities that countries should focus on as they work to support teachers through the pandemic and prepare education workforces more generally for the complex and evolving role of teaching for the future:

–        Teacher well-being. Teachers cannot lead education recovery if they are not healthy, safe, motivated and secure. If systems fail to ensure teachers’ overall well-being, the risk of losing effective teachers may increase as will the possibility of high-quality professionals opting out of teaching jobs.

–        High-quality professional development and learning throughout their careers. Teachers’ jobs, that were already complex pre-pandemic, will only grow more challenging with the increased emphasis on facilitation as opposed to knowledge dissemination. Innovative teaching methods, leveraging remote, hybrid, and in-person modalities requires continuous upskilling and efficient school management.

–        Leverage technology effectively for learning. To reap its benefits, countries must ensure that teachers not only have access to adequate technologies but that they support and train teachers in developing skills to use them effectively.

The above three priorities are all subjects at the centre of the RewirEd Summit, hosted by Dubai Cares in collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai and in close coordination with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, taking place from 12-14 December at the Dubai Exhibition Centre.  

The RewirEd Summit presents an opportunity for the global education community including teachers and education frontliners, policymakers, youth, the private sector, international organizations, and foundations, among others, to come together in one place to drive the change necessary for future education systems that are innovative, sustainable and accessible to all. 

During the three-day Summit, delegates will engage in discussions, panels, hands-on workshops, and take part in exciting launches of new initiatives and experiments, and much more.

The Summit will focus on three key pressing areas in education globally: Youth, Skills and the Future of Work; Innovation in Education; and Education Financing. In addition to the voices of young people, teachers’ voices and perspectives are essential in ensuring that debates on educational policies and practices are informed by teacher perspectives and the context on the ground. 

“As global education stakeholders and country representatives meet in Dubai to strategize about how to meet post-pandemic challenges and recover learning losses, they should actively engage and build on teachers’ perspectives. This will only be possible with teachers firmly present in the room”. We hope to see you there!

Dr Tariq Al Gurg,

CEO and Vice Chairman of Dubai Cares