West African Psychosocial Support in the Classroom Consultancy Update
In March/April 2016 Lidra Remacka, Sustainability Frontiers, Canada, completed a three-week Central African Republic (CAR) consultancy on behalf of the UNICEF Western and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO) in extension of her 2015 Psychosocial Support (PSS) consultancy. The WCA region has suffered from recurrent emergencies and massive population displacement since 2011. Considering the protracted displacement of peoples and the persisting insecurity in some areas of CAR, UNICEF continues to support an Education in Emergencies (EiE) response with the provision of Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS) where the fragile security situation does not permit schools to function.
The WCARO PSS initiative aims at improving the capacity of local teachers in efforts to concretely integrate psychosocial support into the curriculum and to embed psychosocial support for children living in situations of emergency and crisis into daily classroom practice.
The consultancy involved facilitating a cascade approach: a four-day PSS training program for 50 master trainers and a five-day PSS teacher training program for 200 teachers of TLS and hosting schools. PSS training was based on the developed WCARO PSS prototype teacher manual, a tool coherent with the child-centered approach and the principles and guidance outlined by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Minimum Standards and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (IASC MHPSS) guidelines. UNICEF will publish the manual upon by the end of August 2016. Lidra’s final consultancy report for the consultancy was delivered to WCARO on 5 April 2016.
Lidra went on to conduct a three-week training in Mauritania from 17 April to 7 May 2016. The purpose of this consultancy was to support UNICEF WCARO in providing capacity building for the delivery of PSS active learning techniques in temporary learning centers in Mberra refugee camp; the final objective being to embed psychosocial support techniques into the curriculum and into daily teaching. It was the first time that Mauritanian master trainers and teachers were offered training in PSS (30 master trainers and 140 teachers working in zones affected by the mali crisis were trained). The Mauritania UNICEF Country Office had requested the training given the urgency of the situation, and to cover gaps in schools serving more than 50 000 refugees of which more than half are children.
Lidra also used the Mauritania training as a laboratory for creating a field-based teacher guidance pack to help teachers practice what they had learnt in training and to monitor their own performance in delivering PSS in the classroom. The WCA Teacher guidance will benefit countries in the region, including Nigeria, Niger, Mali and CAR where the WACRO methodology has already been introduced.