Coronavirus vaccination campaigns have rolled out across many Arab countries for front-line health care workers and people with high-risk medical conditions. Meanwhile, many educators are vying for teachers and professors to have one of the first spots in line behind them.
“Professors are exposed to daily danger due to crowding in the classroom, which should make them a priority in getting vaccination,” said Najm al-Din Jweideh, general coordinator of the Union of Tunisian University Teachers and Researchers. “This should help also in supporting the education process to keep it going on without interruptions.”
The union, known as IJABA, has called for vaccinating professors, teachers and students across the country as soon as possible.
As the pandemic continues to disrupt education—and with many countries offering in-person instruction only part-time or operating entirely online—it’s unclear when teachers and professors will be vaccinated. Advocates for educators hope earlier vaccine access could increase chances of returning to face-to-face learning and bolster safety for people thrust into these essential roles. (See a related article, “The Shift to Online Education in the Arab World Is Intensifying Inequality.”)
“Most of our classrooms are usually very crowded,” said a professor at a public university in Amman, who asked not to be named. “We should be considered among high risk people, or we won’t be able to teach normally.”
Gulf Nations Lead the Way
The first Arab countries to begin vaccinating their citizens and residents were also among the richest: Saudi Arabia Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Across Saudi Arabia, several universities have opened coronavirus vaccination centers as part of efforts to support the kingdom’s inoculation drive, according to the Saudi Press Agency. The centers in the capital, Riyadh, will be located at King Saud University, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Majmaah University and Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University. The University of Bisha, in the southwestern province of Asir, will also open a vaccine center.
In Mecca, Umm al-Qura University is setting up an inoculation center. Al Abdul Rahman Saeed, a professor of psychology there, seems happy about that.
“Such a step will help largely in restoring the educational process to a normal situation,” he said. “And I am sure it will cover students as well soon.”
A Step Toward Reopening Schools
Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health has indeed prioritized teachers and administrative staff for the vaccine.