#Ottawa; #OntarioEducation; #Merit; #Seniority; #HiringInOntarioSchools
Ottawa, Oct 15 (Canadian-Media): Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Oct 15 in a news conference in Vaughan, the province's move to repeal Regulation 274, a policy that for the past decade has forced Ontario school boards to hire only from a pool of teachers that overlooked the criteria of merit.
"This is about giving principals more flexibility to hire the very best teaching staff. Merit will lead hiring in our schools," said Lecce.
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter handle
The policy was created in 2012 by the then-Liberal government.
Some school boards argued that the rule makes it harder for younger applicants straight out of their education degree to break into the system. The school boards are also constrained from diversifying the teaching workforce.
This move by Lecce was welcomed by the umbrella group of Ontario's public school boards.
"Transparent and equitable hiring practices are essential in order to ensure a highly qualified teacher workforce that reflects the diversity of students and school communities, and meets local needs," said Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, in a statement.
Lecce characterized the move as temporary and did not give a timeframe for putting the rule back in place.
#Geneva, #ILO; #UNICEF; #Education; #SkillsDevelopment; #DJY
Geneva/ILO, Oct 13 (Canadian-Media): The ILO and UNICEF have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Skills Development.
Image credit: SIMS/USA
The agreement was signed virtually by the ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder, and Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF.
The MOU is intended to strengthen collaboration between the two agencies, in support of a lifelong approach to learning that will improve the employability of young people and promote a smoother school-to-work transition. It proposes a range of interventions that are easily adaptable to suit different countries and can be implemented jointly.
The agreement also brings together the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth (DJY), led by the ILO, and Generation Unlimited (GenU), led by UNICEF and capitalizes on the multi-stakeholder memberships of both agencies.
The MOU also supports the aims of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda , in particular Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
Speaking after the signing, Ryder said, "I welcome our new partnership with UNICEF to strengthen education and skills. It's a clear joint commitment for action to improve young people's job prospects and transitions from school to work, particularly in the context of COVID-19 . The MOU is a blueprint for strong collaboration to promote life-long learning in support of the 2030 Agenda."
Fore said, “We know that collaboration will be essential and that it will be very important to reimagine the world. Education and skills are areas where we can make enormous change. We have a once in a generation opportunity – something that will allow us to leapfrog the technologies to reach every child in every community. That will create a level playing field that our world has not yet seen. That is an area that together UNICEF and ILO can work on together strongly.”
#Canada; #CanadaSchools; #InPersonLearning; #VirtualLearning; #COVID19CasesRising
Toronto, Oct 1 (Canadian-Media): A large number of Canadian families had been forced to consider a switch from in-person to virtual learning where it's offered, due to rapid surge in COVID-19 cases by some Canadian provinces in just a few weeks after the start of the school year, media reports said.
Virtual classes. Image credit: Unsplash
With school boards across the country still working to entangle the problems of online classes including the assignment of teachers and reorganization of classrooms, the enrolment of numerous more students for online studies would likely mean more reorganization of classes later this fall.
Registration of more than 70,000 students out of roughly 250,000 students of the Toronto District School Board with virtual classes this fall had already been delayed twice.
Shelley Morse, president of the Canadian Teachers' Federation said that availability of teachers and substitute teachers in regions across the country had been an issue even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic and added,
"Gaps have existed, and provinces and territories haven't addressed it appropriately. One of the issues is that the pay is significantly less for a substitute than a regular classroom teacher...we've talked about a second wave ever since March, the work wasn't done to make sure that teachers were in place, that they entice more teachers to come. [Education ministries] could have raised that pay for this pandemic time to allow [more substitute] teachers to come back to school and do that work," reported by CBC News.
Some students and teachers are being matched up just this week.
"It is an absolute mess," Elementary Teachers of Toronto president Jennifer Brown said of the virtual school start so far.
"We have had half-time teachers being given full-time assignments. We've had students registered for classes without a teacher or, vice-versa, a teacher registered for a class with no accompanying student... We have also had specialty programs that don't have the teachers with the specialty qualifications lined up. It's an administrative nightmare," CBC News reported.
Quebec, Sept. 6 (Canadian-Media): Mathieu Lacombe, the Minister of Families announced Sep 4 that the Quebec government is launching a call for projects for the Support Program for childcare plans during the school break and the summer period to promote professional and school responsibilities for working parents and student parents.
Childcare. Image credit: Unsplash
Adding hours, days and weeks to the existing childcare offer or increasing the reception capacity (number of children or addition of groups) are being considered to improve the childcare plans targeting school-aged children (4 to 12 years old), and upto 21 for children with disabilities.
“To ensure the well-being and quality of life of families, who must reconcile family-work-study, we encourage the multiplication of childcare options during school break periods and summer vacations. I am convinced that the enhanced offer that will result from this call for projects will have a positive impact on many Quebec families, who will be able to better reconcile the different aspects of their life, while knowing their children in safety and in good company," said Lacombe.
The program is in effect until March 31, 2023 and has a total budget of $ 800,000 for the year 2020-2021.
Applicants eligible for this program are: non-profit legal persons; municipalities and boroughs
regional county municipalities; and band councils, the Kativik Regional Government, the Cree Nation Government and other Aboriginal organizations.
UNHCR Report: Coronavirus a dire threat to refugee education – half of the world’s refugee children out of school
#UNHCR; #Covid19; #RefugeeEducation
UNHCR, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media): In a report released today, titled “Coming Together for Refugee Education,” UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, predicts that unless immediate and bold action is taken by the international community to beat back the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on refugee education, the potential of millions of young refugees living in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities will be further threatened. The data in the report is based on the gross enrolment figures from the 2019 school cycle.
Mornings at Vahdat Primary School in Isfahan, Iran when the mix of refugee and host nation pupils arrive are full of enthusiasm and energy. Image credit: © UNHCR/Mohammad Hossein Dehghanian
While children in every country have struggled with the impact of COVID-19 on their education, the report finds that refugee children have been particularly disadvantaged. Before the pandemic, a refugee child was twice as likely to be out of school as a non-refugee child. This is set to worsen – many may not have opportunities to resume their studies due to school closures, difficulties affording fees, uniforms or books, lack of access to technologies or because they are being required to work to support their families.
“Half of the world’s refugee children were already out of school,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “After everything they have endured, we cannot rob them of their futures by denying them an education today. Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, with greater international support to refugees and their host communities, we can expand innovative ways to protect the critical gains made in refugee education over the past years.”
Without greater support, steady, hard-won increases in school, university, and technical and vocational education enrolment could be reversed – in some cases permanently – potentially jeopardizing efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
In a powerful Final Word to the report, the Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR Ambassador for the Instant Network Schools Programme, Mohamed Salah, said: “Ensuring quality education today means less poverty and suffering tomorrow. Unless everyone plays their part, generations of children – millions of them in some of the world’s poorest regions – will face a bleak future. But if we work as a team, as one, we can give them the chance they deserve to have a dignified future. Let’s not miss this opportunity.”
The 2019 data in the report is based on reporting from twelve countries hosting more than half of the world’s refugee children. While there is 77% gross enrolment in primary school, only 31% of youth are enrolled in secondary school. At the level of higher education, only 3% of refugee youth are enrolled.
Far behind global averages, these statistics nevertheless do represent progress. Enrolment in secondary education rose with tens of thousands of refugee children newly attending school; a 2% increase in 2019 alone. However, the COVID-19 pandemic now threatens to undo this and other crucial advances. For refugee girls, the threat is particularly grave.
Refugee girls already have less access to education than boys and are half as likely to be enrolled in school by the time they reach secondary level. Based on UNHCR data, the Malala Fund has estimated that as a result of COVID-19, half of all refugee girls in secondary school will not return when classrooms reopen this month. For countries where refugee girls’ gross secondary enrolment was already less than 10%, all girls are at risk of dropping out for good, a chilling prediction that would have an impact for generations to come.
“I am especially concerned with the impact on refugee girls. Not only is education a human right, but the protection and economic benefits to refugee girls, their families, and their communities of education are clear. The international community simply cannot afford to fail to provide them with the opportunities that come through education,” said Grandi.
Adapting to the limitations imposed by COVID-19 has been especially tough for the 85% of the world’s refugees who live in developing or least developed countries. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, connectivity, even radio sets are often not readily available to displaced communities.
UNHCR, governments, and partners are working tirelessly to bridge critical gaps and ensure the continuity of refugee education during the pandemic through connected learning, television and radio, and by supporting teachers and caregivers to engage with students while observing health guidelines.
The report shows how families, communities and governments are working to provide education to refugee children. It shows positive examples of governments that have written into law the right of refugee children to attend state schools, with stories from Ecuador and Iran. Examples of digital innovation are highlighted by the Minister of Education in Egypt, and by a family in Jordan benefiting from the transition to online learning. With over half the world’s refugees living in urban settings, the importance of cities welcoming refugees is emphasized, with the Mayor of Coventry, UK, sharing how the city manages and why it makes sense.
The report calls on governments, the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders to join forces to find solutions which strengthen national education systems and link with pathways towards certified education, and to secure and safeguard education financing. Without such action, the report warns, we risk a lost generation of refugee children deprived of their education.
The risks to refugee education do not stop with COVID-19. Attacks on schools are a grim and growing reality. The report focuses on Africa’s Sahel region where violence has forced the closure of more than 2,500 schools affecting the education of 350,000 students.
#OntarioGov; #SchoolsReopening; ##Covid19Tests
Ottawa, Sep 3 (Canadian-Media): Ontario government's decision to omit mandatory school testing of Ontario students heading back to school this month amid a global pandemic, confirmed in Ontario's updated school reopening guidelines released last week, surprised many parents and observers, media reports said.
Covid 19 Testing. Image credit: Unsplash
A multiple public health and medical ethics experts interviewed by CBC Toronto supported the province's strategy to forgo mandatory COVID-19 testing in schools, at least for the time being.
Under the guidelines, parents and educators will be asked to screen for COVID-19 symptoms and keep children out of class if they display a possible infection. Other students who come into contact with a known case of the disease will also be directed to self-isolate for 14 days.
In those scenarios, although students may be advised to be tested by a health-care provider, but they will not be required to show proof of a negative test result before returning to class after their period of self-isolation.
But many were of the opinion that a policy for mandatory testing may contribute to keeping schools safe.
"I think mandatory testing across the board would be a good thing and add another layer to the safety protocols that are being put in place," said Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, reported by CBC News.
#UN; #Education; #Culture; #Covid19; #UNESCO; #GlobalEducationCoalition
UN, Sep 2 (Canadian-Media): Classes for more than 450 million students starting the new academic year are expected to be entirely remote – or for some, a mix of distance and in-person learning – the UN education and cultural organization (UNESCO) has said.
Children in Côte d'Ivoire wear face masks as they return to school after temporary closures due to COVID-19. Image credit: © UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
UNESCO, the lead UN agency for education globally, also highlighted persisting inequalities associated with distance learning that particularly impact vulnerable populations.
“The educational crisis remains severe,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO. “Several generations are facing the threat of school closures, which concern hundreds of millions of students and have lasted many months. This is an emergency for global education”, she added.
This year, 900 million pre-primary to secondary students, are set to return to school between August and October. However, fewer than half – about 433 million in 155 countries – can actually return to classrooms at this stage, according to UNESCO.
Factoring in about 128 million students in the middle of their academic year, a total of 561 million students, or one-in-three pupils globally, will attend classes.
That leaves almost a billion students – two-thirds of the global student population – facing either school closures or uncertainty surrounding their classes.
Girls at a higher risk According to UNESCO, till date, students around the world have lost an average of 60 days of schooling since lockdowns began in February and March.
Situations such as school closures, uncertainty over classes, inability to access remote learning or other challenges raises the risk of dropouts, decreased quality of learning, and negative social and economic impacts is high. Often vulnerable populations, in particular girls are at a higher risk.
It is therefore crucial that education authorities work quickly to determine how best to ensure a safe return to school, while protecting the health and safety of students and education staff, said UNESCO.
Against this backdrop, through the Global Education Coalition, UNESCO has launched the #LearningNeverStops campaign to ensure the continued learning of girls during school closures, and their safe return when schools reopen, in light of the many obstacles they face outside education, including adolescent pregnancy, early and forced marriage, and violence.
Also through the partnership, UNESCO has produced and disseminated communication and advocacy toolkits and a girls’ back to school guide to help all stakeholders.
#UN; ##UNICEF; #Inequailty; #EducationAccess; #OnlineLearning
Nairobi/UN, Aug 28 (Canadian-Media); For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, “there was no such a thing as remote learning,” the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday, as the agency launched a new report outlining the limitations of remote learning and exposing the deep inequalities in access.
An 11-year-old child studies his Class 6 textbooks and revises the exercises at home in Nairobi, Kenya. He cannot participate in online learning as his family has no mobile phone. Image credit: © UNICEF/Everett
“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency. The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, in a news release announcing the findings.
At the height of nationwide and local lockdowns, nearly 1.5 billion schoolchildren were affected by school closures.
‘Competing factors’ impact learning
The report – based on a globally representative analysis on the availability of home-based remote learning technology and tools for children from pre-primary to upper-secondary levels – also found that even when children had the necessary platforms, they may not be able to learn remotely due to competing factors at home.
The competing factors, UNICEF said, could include pressure to do chores, being forced to work, a poor environment for learning, and lack of support in using the online or broadcast curriculum.
The report used data from 100 countries, which included access to television, radio and internet, and the availability of curriculum delivered across these platforms during school closures.
Stark inequality within countries
The report highlighted stark inequalities across regions and within countries. Schoolchildren in sub-Saharan Africa were the worst affected, with half of all students not reached with remote learning.
Schoolchildren from the poorest households and those living in rural areas are also at high risk of missing out during closures.
Globally, 72 per cent of schoolchildren unable to access remote learning live in their countries’ poorest households. In upper-middle-income countries, schoolchildren from the poorest households account for up to 86 per cent of students unable to access remote learning.
Age groups also had an impact, with the youngest students most likely to miss out on remote learning during their most critical years of learning and development.
Addressing the challenges
To respond, governments should prioritize the safe re-opening of schools when they begin easing lockdown restrictions, UNICEF urged, along with urgent investment to bridge the digital divide.
“When reopening is not possible, [we] urge governments to incorporate compensatory learning for lost instructional time into school continuity and reopening plans,” added the UN agency, explaining that school opening policies and practices must include expanding access to education, including remote learning, especially for marginalized groups.
Alongside, education systems must be adapted and built to withstand future crises.
#Ottawa; #Covid19; #OntarioSchools; #OntarioHealth
Ottawa, Aug 27 (Canadian-Media): Details about the safe return of Ontario students to school in September were provided Aug 26 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Dirk Huyer, who was recently the Executive Lead for the COVID-19 Testing Approach at the Command Table and is the Chief Coroner for Ontario.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
"We have been working hand in hand with the medical experts to develop a plan that will allow schools to quickly and effectively find, isolate and contain a COVID-19 case or outbreak," said Premier Ford in a news release. "With medical experts helping to develop and support our plan, parents, teachers and educators can be confident every measure has been taken to put the health and safety of students and staff first."
In consultation with public health experts, including Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document was released by Ontario Government which facilitates identification and isolation COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks.
In addition, Dr. Dirk Huyer, who, will serve as Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response will lead the province's efforts to prevent and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of sectors, including the education, child care, agriculture and health care sectors.
The guidance document includes detailed instructions for a variety of different scenarios including outlines recommendations for what parents should do to support their children.
"Ontario's COVID-19 management plan for schools was developed by medical leaders, with one aim: to maximize safety and minimize the risk to your children," said Minister Lecce in the news release. "We have the resources in place ― from nursing to testing and enhanced screening and cleaning ― to help prevent the spread, coupled with a comprehensive plan to respond to any challenge immediately and decisively, under the leadership of Dr. Huyer."
Lecce has issued a letter to parents to outline the shared responsibility to keep students safe and the key elements of the outbreak management protocol.
Key elements of the guidance document explains the role of school boards and schools, local public health units; critical role of parents, appropriate steps to take when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19; Protocols to trigger various levels of public health responses or infection control measures
An additional public health guidance, COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management is also being issued by The Chief Medical Officer of Health to facilitate medical officers of health and public health units to support their efforts in investigating cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks in school settings.
"As schools welcome students and teachers back in the coming weeks, it's important for everyone to be informed and understand their role in keeping each other safe," said Dr. David Williams. "This guidance document provides a thorough management plan for school boards, schools, parents and community partners like public health units to respond to COVID-19."
#Ottawa, #NewSchoolYear; #Reserchers; #PublicHealthOfficers; #SalivaBasedCOVID19Tests
Ottawa, Aug 26 (Canadian-Media): As the school year approaches, researchers and public health officials have been calling for saliva-based COVID-19 tests in schools, which has yet not been authorized by Health Canada, media reports said.
Health Canada. Image credit: Twitter handle
A COVID-19 saliva-based test has been submitted to Health Canada by U.S-based DiaCarta for review.
Consistent international efforts have been made to opt for saliva-based testing, but it is still not known when this test would be introduced in Canada.
Five saliva-based tests in the United States have been approved so far by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including one developed by Yale University researchers with funding support from the National Basketball Association.
Similar to the the current tests such as nasal swab samples which are sent to lab for processing, these saliva-based tests also involve the same procedures of getting the results processed by the lab, with results back in around 24 hours.
Also the collection of saliva-based tests could be done easily at home by parents or in schools by existing staff, without requiring medical teams in full protective gear.