UNESCO and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 are collecting information on teacher prioritization within national COVID-19 vaccine deployment, including data from the UNESCO/UNICEF/World Bank Survey on National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures and the OECD.
National vaccination rollout plans vary significantly in terms of number of phases and priority groups. At present, 1 in 4 of teachers globally are prioritized in the first phase of national rollout plans and 1 in 3 teachers are not included in any priority group.
Previous evidence suggests that widespread vaccinations could extend until 2023 in some of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, which provides a strong rationale for prioritizing teachers in these more vulnerable countries. Some developing countries have however, under the auspices of the COVAX programme, vaccinated teacher and other school staff with relative speed even when not prioritized as frontline workers.
A new health and vaccination management tool
UNESCO has launched a new health and vaccination management tool, OpenEMIS Vaccinations, through a partnership with Community Systems Foundation (CSF), a Global Education Coalition member.
Free and open to all, OpenEMIS can help countries track who is vaccinated to promote a safe return to schools. Modules facilitate the recording of health information for school personnel and can also generate reports to track progress of COVID-19 testing and/or vaccination campaigns in schools.
Prioritizing teachers in COVID-19 education responses
The call to prioritize teachers in COVID-19 education responses is not new. As early as March 2020, the International Taskforce on Teachers for Education 2030 launched an international Call for Action on Teachers to highlight critical measures that countries should take to support teachers in the global pandemic, including the protection of teachers’ and students’ health, safety and well-being.
This was reaffirmed during the Extraordinary session of the Global Education Meeting, convened by UNESCO in October 2020, where Heads of State and Ministers committed to support all teachers and education personnel as frontline workers, and to prioritize their health and safety.
On 14 December 2020, UNESCO and Education International urged countries to include teachers as a priority group in national vaccination rollout plans to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect teachers and students in an effort to ensure the continuation of learning and a safe return to in-person teaching.