UNESCO’s International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) of Uganda and the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) organized a 5-day training workshop in Mukono, from 26 to 30 June 2023. A pool of forty national trainers has been capacitated in Mental health and psychosocial support to support nationwide implementation.
The main objectives of UNESCO’s mental health and psychosocial support intervention for teachers among other things were to; assess the psychosocial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on in-service teachers and learners as well as identify capacity gaps and innovations. The intervention also set out to develop a contextualized sub-regional strategy and high-level advocacy policy briefs for teachers’ unions and countries on resilience building, strengthening psychosocial support for teacher educators and develop an evidence-based MHPSS manual, school-based training manual and tools for teachers.
The COVID-19 pandemic had significant psychosocial impacts on teachers and learners in Uganda. Among teachers, 31.0% experienced depression, 24.6% had anxiety, and 20.8% faced stress. Similarly, among teacher educators, 33.0% experienced depression, 25.5% had anxiety, and 19.9% faced stress. Uganda experienced one of the longest COVID-19-induced shutdowns, with nearly 2 years of partial or full closure.
Mrs. Teddy Chimulwa, National UNESCO Programme Officer Education Health and Well-being commended the multi-sectoral representation of stakeholders supporting the education sector. Their support goes beyond delivering quality and inclusive education; it also prioritizes the well-being of teachers and learners. She emphasized, “the mental health status of teachers will directly impact on the learner’s mental health and well-being and therefore empowering the teachers to be psychologically and psychosocially well, will enhance the learning process.”
Dr. Victoria Kisaakye Kanobe, Senior Programme Specialist at IICBA highlighted, “There is a lack of support systems and structures that exist for teachers across the region and continent that specifically support teachers’ recover from traumatic experiences and workplace challenges as one of the key challenges affecting the profession, and it is contributing factor to poor education outcomes.”
The five-day workshop covered topics such as mental health, psychosocial well-being, communication skills, and counselling techniques for teachers. The training helped identify capacity gaps and innovative strategies. Participatory approaches, such as brainstorming, role plays, and action planning, were employed to support teachers in providing effective support to learners.
“We must build our own capacities on mental health and psychosocial support to be able to support our learners and teachers to cope with and address the prevailing challenges” emphasised Mr. Saidi Nsamba, Senior Education Officer, MoES
“Let us think and rethink on the best strategies to support the teachers in Uganda so that our innocent learners can benefit as we seek to build a nation.” declared Filbert Baguma, Secretary General Uganda National Teachers Union
“My take-home from this training is the progressive muscle-relaxation technique which connects the body, mind and soul. I have also decided to take on this approach as one of the methodologies I will be applying during my therapy sessions because you cannot do counselling unless someone is ready to connect with the three domains.” emphasised Rev. Nathan Mugalu, Religious Leader
As Uganda endeavors to build a strong nation and deliver quality education, it is crucial to prioritize the mental health and well-being of teachers. Through collaboration with UNESCO, Uganda aims to strengthen mental health and psychosocial support systems. This effort will create a conducive learning environment that fosters the growth and development of both teachers and learners.
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