French-speaking teachers have stood up for quality education following the sudden closure of education establishments

published 11 May 2020 updated 13 May 2020

In a webinar, the French-speaking trade union committee for education and training has stressed that teachers from the French-speaking world, taken by surprise by the forced closures during the COVID-19 epidemic, have shown their inventiveness and adaptability to find ways of best meeting their students’ education needs.

At the webinar on “Field Tests for Distance Teaching” on 7 May, the Institut de la Francophonie pour l’éducation et la formation decided to allow the French-speaking Comité syndical francophone de l’Éducation et de la Formation(Trade Union Committee for Education and Training – CSFEF) to speak. This body includes the member organizations of Education International in French-speaking countries.

Jean-Hervé Cohen, chairman of CSFEF, was able to give examples based on field studies showing that the system of doing schoolwork at home is a long way from being operational in most French-speaking African countries.

“However, teachers have shown initiative and dynamism in the difficult times we are going through in order to maintain the link with their students,” he insisted, explaining that “the sudden closure of schools has upset the education system in many countries. Teachers and their students have had to respond rapidly to the challenge of the continuity of education and they have had to make use of new tools, even if they were often not very well prepared to do so”.

He also acknowledged that the school community must overcome many difficulties due to the diversity of equipment in the different countries. For example, computer tools are a long way from functioning properly everywhere, and other teaching supports, such as television, radio and even the postal service, have been brought into the effort.

Cohen added that “teachers must not feel guilty about the quality of distance learning, but rather react together to ensure the continuity of education with the best possible quality. We must not be under any illusions: distance teaching is not the most desirable way of working in terms of interaction between teachers and students.”

The webinar video (in French):