Forward to school

Guidance and resources for and from education unions to inform decision-making in the era of COVID-19

The past months have been challenging to say the least, as we have sought a balance between minimizing risks to the health and safety of students and educators and ensuring the continuation of quality teaching and learning for all. As schools and education institutions gradually reopen around the world across multiple and varied contexts, striking this balance remains a challenge and an imperative for us as unions representing our profession.

In April, Education International published its Guidance on Reopening Schools and Education Institutions. Based on your insights and experiences, we identified five essential areas governments needed to focus on to ensure a safe transition back to onsite education and to mitigate the impact of the prolonged closures on students and educators:

  1. Engage in social and policy dialogue
  2. Ensure the health and safety of education communities
  3. Make equity a top priority
  4. Support physical and emotional wellbeing and recovery
  5. Trust the professionalism of educators

Building on these pillars, Forward to School aims to inform the response of education unions in this next stage of the Covid-19 education crisis. It features information, research and, most importantly, examples of union actions in more than 50 countries across all regions.

It is a living document, which will be updated as this unprecedented and unpredictable situation develops. In the meantime, our Information Hub will continue to provide the latest news on the work of EI and its member organisations. For any questions, suggestions or updates you may want to share with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch via

Additionally, EI’s Special Adviser and Chair of the Education Working Group of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD, John Bangs, has drafted a COVID-19 Discussion Paper for member organisations to inform our thinking beyond the Five Pillars and into the broader education policy implications for education during and after the pandemic. It draws on his many decades of engagement with unions and education ministries and seeks to foment debates and discussions among and leaders as they deal with the crisis and what comes next.

What lies ahead will not be easy. And while there is still so much we do not know in terms of how the virus will further impact humanity, the title on our further guidance, Forward to School also refers to the opportunity at hand. This exceptional situation potentially provides an opportunity to improve the funding, functioning and sustainability of education systems, particularly as the world now more acutely understands the complexity and value of our work. Now is the time to push forward and take the lead as the organised and principled profession we are.