The UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) conducted a pilot Training for Teacher Educators and School Leaders to Strengthen Psychosocial Support for pre and in-service Teachers in Africa. The training was held in Adama, Ethiopia from 8 to 10 December, 2022.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, levels of stress have significantly increased for teachers as they and their families face the risk of contracting the disease, while they were also responding to the challenge of school closures and remote learning. UNESCO-IICBA conducted an assessment in 2021, that has found that Teacher’s physical, mental, and social health have been impacted. The systematic review revealed that depression was the most felt psychological impact affecting 31.0% of teachers and 33.0% of teacher educators, anxiety affecting 24.6% of teachers and 25.5% of teacher educators and stress, affecting 20.8% of teachers and 19.9% of teacher educators. Therefore, education responses to COVID-19 need to ensure teachers, school leaders and teacher educators receive ongoing psychosocial support.
To address these challenges the UNESCO IICBA in collaboration with UNESCO Regional Offices, Country Offices, National Country Commission, and other partners developed a regional strategy for strengthening mental health and psychosocial support for Teachers and Teacher Educators in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr Birhanu Moreda, Secretary-General of the National Commission for UNESCO, declared “I know that UNESCO family have been exerting enormous efforts to ensure the implementation of UNESCO Programs in Ethiopia. This piloting workshop of the training guide is just an addition to what you have been doing so far, and it is timely and relevant. UNESCO'S expertise in creating sustainable and resilient peace environment is highly needed for the country at this point of the time.”
Saliou Sall, Senior Program Coordinator for UNESCO IICBA stated “To address one of the recommendations of the assessment, UNESCO IICBA developed a training manual for Teacher Educators and Educational Leaders to strengthen Psychosocial Support for pre & in- service Teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, this pilot training is organized to obtain feedback, incorporate the changes and comments of the teachers.”
This pilot training workshop helped identify common psychosocial problems, challenges and psychosocial needs of teachers and teacher educators that need to be addressed within the education system.
Teachers and teacher educators’ mental health and psychosocial wellbeing is one of the prerequisites for quality teaching due to their two folded role in education system. Besides delivering course contents; teachers and teacher-educators provides psychosocial support to learners including informal counselling services. However, these responsibilities usually leave teachers at risk to stress, reduced efficacy, and attrition, as well as more generally feeling overwhelmed by the emotional intensity of the work. And yet teachers play a critical role in providing psychosocial support to learners.
Mental health and psychosocial services in some countries of the region organized to address the needs of learners through school counselling services, school community and or peer support. Addressing mental health and psychosocial services needs of teachers and teacher educators should integrated in school health policies and health education strategies and adapted to country context. Teachers’ mental health and psychosocial wellbeing is a priority as it had a huge impact on quality of education and learning outcomes.
UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA)
IICBA’s mission is to strengthen teacher policies and teacher development in Africa by developing the capacity of countries to increase the supply of qualified teachers. Through teacher education, content development, and teacher training, IICBA enhance local capacity to address cross-cutting and critical issues towards equity and inclusive quality education.