Nepal: Education union takes the lead on fighting COVID-19

published 12 March 2020 updated 24 March 2020

The Nepal National Teachers' Association has provided teachers with information on COVID-19 during a union workshop. It is also planning to organise as many information workshops as possible for a month. These will coincide with the celebration of the country’s National Teachers’ Day.

There was only one topic at a workshop on 7-8 March organised by the Nepal National Teachers' Association (NNTA). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was the only item on the agenda at the workshop, one of the few gatherings to be allowed by local authorities in the city of Dhading, in north-west Nepal.

The district-level union workshop attracted a lot of attention, with local media reporters asked to cover the event – the first union workshop receiving media attention.

Role of local leaders

The main session on COVID-19, chaired by NTTA National President Laxman Sharma, was held on 8 March. Krishna Upreti, a district-level medical officer and a trade union activist in the public health sector, informed attendees about COVID-19 and prepared local leaders to play their roles in this new context.

The session also tackled the role of teachers’ local unions in schools and at grassroots level. Participants expressed their willingness to play an active and informative role in their classrooms and their own community.

Teachers’ Day celebrations

While the Government of Nepal has prohibited mass gatherings, NNTA is due to hold its 41st Teachers’ Day celebrations on 11 April. Given the new restrictions created by the pandemic, NNTA has decided to mainstream sessions on COVID-19 in all regular training workshops and celebrate Teachers’ Day only within small units with an agenda revolving around the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NNTA celebration of Teachers’ Day will also last a month given that schools across the country will be closed. At school and local levels also, the education union has encouraged members to take the lead in their communities, by engaging in awareness raising and skill-transfer activities and partnering with allies.