SNTE General Secretary Alfonso Cepeda Salas.
SNTE General Secretary Alfonso Cepeda Salas.

Mexico: Irreplaceable role of teachers in the COVID-19 educational process

published 13 January 2021 updated 27 January 2021

As classes resumed across Mexico on 11 January, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) took the opportunity to reiterate that educators are crucial to maintaining a sound education process and quality education despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes are being delivered remotely through the Learn at Home programme.

The SNTE has highlighted the key principles necessary to ensure the health and safety of educators and students during the ongoing COVID-19. According to SNTE General Secretary Alfonso Cepeda Salas, these principles are:

  • Protecting health and life, with the President of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, including education workers as a priority group to receive the vaccine against COVID-19.
  • Considering COVID-19 as an occupational risk disease and returning to presential education when the epidemiological ‘traffic light’ is green.
  • Setting up community learning centres in some education settings that receive a yellow epidemiological “traffic light”, with voluntary attendance by teachers and students after vaccinations have been received.
  • Giving alternative distance education options such as using internet, radio, television, and printed support materials for the most vulnerable communities.

Educators have risen to the challenge

“We started this school year in extraordinary conditions, even unprecedented for our generation,” said Cepeda Salas. “The Coronavirus pandemic threatens health and life, therefore the agreement since March 2020 with educational authorities was the preventive social isolation of students and teachers to protect them and also reduce the daily mobility of more than 40 million people.”

He underlined that teachers were confronted by the challenge of developing alternative distance teaching and learning options to classroom education, through use of the internet, radio, television, and printed support materials for the poorest communities.

“Society has recognised the value of school and its teachers, they appreciate that the educational process has not stopped, that with great professionalism teachers dedicate all their time to motivate their students, explain, and provide feedback on learning,” he said. In addition, he commended the teaching staff for showing “a great capacity for innovation, assertive and empathetic communication to promote parallel learning opportunities between teachers, students and parents, because all the distance education options have been made through participation and teaching work.”

Pride in being a teacher

Cepeda Salas added that “this crisis has also demonstrated the irreplaceable role of teachers in fulfilling the educational process”. The SNTE “will never stop saying it: Being a teacher is something to be proud of ... You are  those who, fulfilling your responsibility under any circumstance, represent good men and women and, at the same time, contribute to the development and wellbeing of our people.

“We will move on; I have no doubt. Mexico and its public schools will succeed with the participation, dedication, and vocation of their teachers,” he concluded.