Class of Covid-19

The Varkey Foundation, as a member of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition, has launched a global initiative to give the ‘Class of COVID-19’ a voice on the future of their education.

  • The world’s first international fact-finding commission led by young people, into the impact of COVID-19 on the future of their education
  • A campaign to involve young people in this inquiry to have their voice heard on the future of their education post COVID-19

A group of 11 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize finalists from around the world is launching ‘Class of COVID-19’ – the world’s first international fact-finding commission led by young people into how education should change after schools reopen. These discussions will ask children what they have missed about school while it has been closed and what they haven’t, what they’ve learned about themselves during lockdown, and what they would change about their school when they return to classes. While teachers will bring the students together, it is the children themselves who will lead the conversations, and the moderators of each discussion will form a group of Varkey Youth Ambassadors.

The Varkey Foundation is also inviting children all around the world to fill in an anonymous online questionnaire about their experience of education during lockdown.

“I welcome this new fact-finding commission, established by the Varkey Foundation as a member of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition. It is vital that we hear young people’s voices.”
Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education

The results of the focused discussions and the online questionnaire will be published in October in a report authored by the Varkey Youth Ambassadors. The youth-led fact-finding commission will be charged with reporting on its findings to UNESCO and the Global Education Coalition, and to make a series of recommendations for how governments can incorporate the voices of children into policymaking. 

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, over 1.5 billion learners have been impacted worldwide as schools and universities have been forced to close, and the vast majority of these are children of school age. The international community must rally around the Class of COVID-19, the schoolchildren and young people around the world who have spent months shut out of the classroom because of the global pandemic. That means giving schoolchildren and young people a voice and listening to their concerns as they return to school amid a deeply uncertain future. Policymakers must work to understand the impact of the school closures on schoolchildren and young people, and what schools and education ministries can do to help them.

A global initiative

The Class of COVID-19 began with UK-based teacher Sean Bellamy, a Global Teacher Prize Finalist who encouraged schoolchildren to talk about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and education.

Sean is the co-founder of Sands Democratic School, an Ashoka Foundation Change Leader, a Varkey Global Teaching Ambassador, an advisor to global educational wellbeing projects and coach and mentor to new democratic and alternative school start ups around the world. 

The campaign has now grown to include many other Global Teacher Prize finalists around the world:

  • Hiba Ballout Lebanon
  • Silvana Carnicero Argentina
  • Rubens Ferronato Brazil
  • Abdikadir Ismail Kenya
  • Marcela Lisette Henríquez Aravena Chile
  • Angel Mejico USA
  • Melissa Morris USA
  • Estella Owoimaha-Church USA
  • Yasodai Selvakumaran Australia
  • Przemysław Staroń Poland