Western and Central Africa Psychosocial Support Consultancy Update
Lidra Remacka, Sustainability Frontiers, Canada is continuing to work closely with the UNICEF Western and Central African Regional Office (WCARO) on best strategies for integrating and infusing psychosocial support (PSS) into the national curriculum of eight countries in West and Central Africa. For earlier reports on her work click here and here.
In the eight countries children and teachers are exposed to violence, conflict, and displacement. In these extremely difficult conditions, education is an opportunity for children to return to a sense of normalcy and to provide hope for the future. The infusion approach to PSS capacity building of teachers and education service providers has been expanding within the region since 2015. By August 2016 educators in the Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Mauritania had received technical support through Lidra's work. In 2015, almost 700 teachers were trained in three states of Nigeria (Gombe, Adamawa and Borno), in Niger and in Mali. In 2016, more than 650 teachers in CAR, Chad, Cameroon, Senegal and Mauritania participated in training given by Lidra.
Capacity building in PSS in the classroom is becoming highly valued by ministries of education, teacher training institutions, teachers and school principals as an important component part of Education in Emergencies and as a key intervention for promoting safe learning environments and safety preparedness. This approach not only reinforces the capacity of educators to foster a child-friendly environment in schools, promoting psychosocial well-being, resilience and coping skills and dispositions but also aims at reorienting the teacher away from frontal, curriculum/delivery focused teaching and towards forging a healing environment for students. This shift is meant to happen through the infusion of simple PSS activities into subject teaching.
You have to come to my school and see our children participate on the PSS activities. PSS activities are joyful and inspirational; they heal and motivate my students. They ask me every day to use those activities again and again. They think they are games, they forgot their sorrows.
- Grade 5 female teacher, Diffa, Niger