Schoolteachers around the world are striving to give children the best possible education in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
For one Saudi teacher it’s a tougher battle than most.
Mohammed Al-Fifi has cancer, but the dream of returning to the classroom and seeing his students again has helped to get him through grueling chemotherapy treatments. Indeed, the pandemic has given him the chance to do this even sooner because he can give his lessons virtually by video link from the hospital.
“Teachers are responsible for the biggest and most noble of jobs, and under no circumstances are they allowed to disregard their duties,” he said.
Al-Fifi, 37, is a third-grade Arabic language teacher at Abu Omar Al-Dany Elementary in Riyadh’s Al-Uraija Al-Gharbiyah area.
In May, doctors told him they had found cancer in his lymph nodes, and he was admitted to the hospital soon after to begin chemotherapy. Four treatments later, he is doing well but faces a long, hard battle.
“Virtual learning allowed me to regain some strength, despite my illness, and I feel like I’m back on my own two legs in my classroom, moving between my students’ desks to observe their work,” he said.
Although he was delighted to see them again, he admits it was an emotional and challenging experience both for him and the youngsters.
“Seeing my students for the first time was extremely stressful and difficult from my end and theirs,” he said. “My students noted my physical changes and I could see the sadness on their faces. It’s difficult for all of us.”
As he continues his treatment, Al-Fifi said the support he has received from the Ministry of Education, his colleagues and the students has helped to keep his spirits up and get through this tough time.