CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Monday marks World Teachers’ Day, and government officials, families and students across the globe are showing gratitude as classroom learning presents new challenges this year.
According to UNESCO, World Teacher’s Day has been held annually on Oct. 5 since 1994. It commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of 1966 international benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers.
This year’s theme is “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future.”
“In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind,” said a joint statement from UNESCO, UNICEF, International Labour Organization and Education International officials. “Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue. Their role advising on school reopening plans and supporting students with the return to school is just as important.”
In the U.S., disparities between poor and affluent school districts are growing as leadership faces increased costs from the pandemic, including technology for remote learning and safety measures such as cleaning.
In Clearwater, Florida, volunteers are delivering food to children who rely on school cafeteria meals. In Salt Lake City, Utah, a laptop shortage meant one out of every seven students didn’t log on for the first week of class. In Salinas, California, a picture of two young children using the free Wifi outside a Taco Bell went viral, bringing attention to the 17 million students nationwide who lack internet access at home.
“Never before have so many children been out of school at the same time, disrupting learning and upending lives, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized,” the United Nations said in a statement. “The global pandemic has far-reaching consequences that may jeopardize hard won gains made in improving global education.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked teachers for all of their work to help children return to schools during the pandemic.
“Teachers have gone above and beyond throughout these past few months – keeping children learning in unprecedented circumstances & crucially getting them back to school this September,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.”
The government of Pakistan also saluted teachers on Monday.
While World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on Monday, UNESCO is hosting a variety of events, many virtually, throughout the week. For the full schedule, visit the international body’s website.
Reuters contributed to this report.