Bahrain: Seven pillars of union plan to reopen schools and education institutions
The Bahrain Teachers’ Association has made proposals regarding the reopening of schools and education institutions for the next academic year, 2020-2021, stressing seven measures to be taken.
The school environment, the curriculum, scheduling, transport, teaching and assessment methods, applying standards, and availing of expertise – these are the seven pillars of school reopening plans of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA).
Presenting his union’s proposals for school reopening for the 2020-2021 academic year, Mahdi Abu Deeb, BTA president, said: “Some people may see that the financial cost stands in the way of applying a number of proposed measures, but the whole world knows perfectly well that the cost of not implementing preventive measures is much greater at all levels, not just the economic level”. Abu Deeb is also a member of Education International’s Arab Countries Cross Regional Structure.
To make sure classes can resume in safe environments, the BTA suggests restructuring classrooms, teachers’, and administrators’ rooms in order to achieve social distancing and have the lowest possible number of students, teachers, and administrators in them.
The union also demands that the required protection methods be provided and deployed in school facilities, especially masks, hand washing gels, and sterilisers.
It further requires that advanced first aid kits and body heat screening services be made available in schools.
Modifying the curriculum
Concerning the curriculum, the education union advises the following actions:
- Modify and condense curricula, focusing on the most important topics.
- Cancel unnecessary activities affecting efficient implementation of social distancing, such as morning queues or team sports.
Adjusting teachers’ and students’ schedule
To adapt teachers’ and students’ schedules and make them compatible with safe teaching and learning practices, the BTA recommends:
- Reducing school hours, adjusting lesson schedules, arranging availability between classes, organising student outreach during break time, providing meals to students and teachers to avoid overcrowded canteens, and reprogramming school days and classes.
- Pairing on-site and virtual working hours for teachers and students by applying a hybrid system, aimed at reducing the numbers of teachers and students present within the school premises per day.
Adopting transportation-related measures
In terms of transportation, the BTA demands that an increased number of students' buses be provided that are large enough to allow for physical distancing, and that minibuses be allowed to transfer fewer students and that their owners be compensated for their related financial losses.
Using teaching methods and assessment tools
As far as teaching methods and assessment tools are concerned, the BTA suggests using:
- Modern teaching methods and align curricula and educational materials with teaching methods via the Internet, e-learning and remote education.
- A combination of assessment methods, including traditional exams, to avoid physical closeness and provide greater opportunity for social distancing and ensure full transparency in the evaluation criteria and grades without prejudicing the level of evaluation, which could expose students to injustice regarding their academic levels or compromising their grades.
Implementing international and national standards to fight the epidemic
The union believes the best way to deal with the epidemic according to international and national standards is by:
- Looking at research conducted by scientists and doctors giving more information about the virus, how to deal with it and treat it, as well as how best to deal with the situation.
- Making concerted efforts to follow and implement adequate safety measures, especially in schools and various educational environments.
Taking advantage of other organisations’ expertise and experience
Finally, the BTA recommends taking advantage of the expertise, information or human and material capabilities of trade unions, civil society institutions, local community, parents, and international institutions in the field of preventive health and educational institutions.
You can download Education International’s Guidance on Reopening Schools and Education Institutions here