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People line up to receive the vaccine for COVID-19 in Mumbai, India, 25 May 2021 (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool/ISOPIX)
People line up to receive the vaccine for COVID-19 in Mumbai, India, 25 May 2021 (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool/ISOPIX)

India: Educators call for worldwide solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic

Education International Executive Board Resolution

published 2021-05-26 updated 2021-05-27

The Education International Executive Board, meeting online on 26 May 2021,

Sadly notes that:

1. COVID 19 infections in India have surged since April 2021 and as of 11th May 2021, the Indian sub-continent accounts for almost 50% of the world’s new COVID cases;

2. As per government data, more than 290,000 people including health professionals and education staff have succumbed to the virus so far while the actual figures as per various reports are much higher;

3. Government’s inaction in strengthening public health infrastructure despite early warnings has resulted in loss of thousands of lives that could have been saved with sufficient supply of oxygen, hospital beds, ventilators and a qualified healthcare workers;

4. Ignoring the advice of the experts for a second wave, the Government of India and Election Commission decided to go ahead with Assembly elections in five states, Municipal elections in one state, allowed huge gathering in religious festivals such as Kumbh which in turn became ‘super spreader events’;

5. Government did not heed the request of the education unions to postpone elections and the counting of results amid the raging pandemic and deputed education staff for election duties without proper sanitation and medical facilities or insurance coverage;

6. More than 1600 teachers and education staff have died upon being infected with COVID 19 while performing the election duties only in Uttar Pradesh state of India;

7. The efforts to vaccinate are marred by the shortages in vaccine and necessary resources despite being called the ‘Pharmacy of the developing world’, and only 10% of the population in India has received one dose of vaccines so far;

8. The federal and state governments have failed to prioritize teachers for vaccination;

Acknowledges

9. The need to immediately take action to reign down the surge in infection and death and alleviate grief, sorrow and pain suffered by hundreds of thousands of people in the sub-region;

10. The support by various governments and the international community in assisting people of India with oxygen plants, concentrators and other medical supplies;

11. The efforts made by educators and education unions across India in providing financial support, raising awareness, supporting students and parents, and making efforts to continue the teaching-learning process;

12. The need to provide adequate health coverage and facilities to all the teachers and education staff;

Urges the Federal and state governments in India to:

13. Strengthen the public health sector and provide necessary resources to effectively rein in the surge of the pandemic;

14. Provide adequate compensation to the families of teachers and education staff who have lost their lives due to COVID 19 while on duty;

15. Provide relief to overcome the pandemic, especially to those who are most vulnerable and are marginalized;

16. Accelerate vaccination rollout to immediately reach all population groups and prioritize teachers for vaccination to ensure a safe return to in-person teaching and learning;

17. Establish social dialogue with education unions, guarantee the protection and rights of all education workers and develop consultations with the unions to ensure that actions taken after the pandemic are inclusive and comprehensive;

Urges EI member organisations to

18. Continue in leading the fight against the impact of COVID-19 on education and in supporting teachers, students and parents in navigating out of the present conditions;

19. Stand for the protection of the terms, working conditions and rights of educators and education support personnel in all settings;

20. Stand in solidarity with the educators and education unions in India amid these challenging times.