MARGARET SAMULELA, Arusha
EDUCATION is a fundamental right and can give way to all other benefits that come as goals for most people. It is therefore vital that it is provided in the best environment for both the learner and the teacher.
To ensure that this education occurs in an environment which is conducive especially for the learner, the regional psychosocial support initiative (REPSSI) has initiated a psychosocial programme through which teachers acquire skills through which they can effectively address the issues that affect learners.
Making a presentation at the Psychosocial Support Forum 2017 at the Arusha International Conference Centre in Tanzania recently, REPSSI Zambia country director Kelvin Ngoma and regional advisor Lynette Mudekunye shared results of the outcomes of mainstreaming psychosocial support education in the education system in Zambia.
“This course was piloted in 2013 on the premise that schools are found in most communities of Zambia and are also provide a link for the learner to access other key services such as health and social development,” Mr Ngoma said.
To ensure that all stakeholder participated, a curriculum was prepared in consultation with all directorates at provincial and district educational leadership. Traditional and religious leaders were also consulted in the process.
“After the curriculum was prepared, 1,000 teachers enrolled for the diploma programme in psychosocial care, support and protection, from which 801 teachers graduated,” he said.
Mr Ngoma said REPSSI developed a course for teachers which was piloted in Zambia in 3 provinces in 11 districts. To ensure that the community members were also involved in the psychosocial care of the learners, 317 community based workers were trained in the certificate in community based work in children and youth, out of which 273 graduated.
Over the course of two years, REPSSI has been carrying out monitoring and evaluation to determine the impact of the programme on the teachers as well as on the learners in the schools where the teachers where operating.
Ms Mudeyunke said success results of the diploma course were seen through increased access to the learners’ response to sexual abuse, future orientation, available social support, school environment, school respect, school environment and school bullying.
Evaluation results also indicated that the teachers also registered increased benefits from the course such as being more in control of their emotions and experiencing self-efficacy.
Other results from the learners indicated that there was an improvement in the physical environment of the school and am improved teacher-student environment which made it easy for learners to open up in situations such as one experiencing sexual abuse.
“When learners know that they are being respected and accepted as an individual by a teacher, it is easier for them to approach them when they have an experience that requires intervention,” said Ms Mudekunye.
Apart from the teachers’ programme, a community developed programme was also developed to ensure that even community leaders were also empowered with skills to be able to attend to learners.
The results were that the number that the integrated efforts from both teachers and community leaders made the learners more open to express themselves and share their experiences when the need arose.
“We also heard from the children at the schools that the farming communities became involved in the activities of the schools and some began to provide some food to provide for those learners who came from vulnerable homes,” Ms Mudekunye said.
And Mr Ngoma said the course is also being integrated through the in service learning programme.
“On the aspect of integration and duplication of the programme, the course has now been registered by TEVETA, giving it a good weighting and making it more recognisable to the potential students who might have an interest in taking up the course,” Mr Ngoma said.
The programme has since been replicated in Lesotho and Swaziland.
The PSS forum is a bi annual event set up by REPSSI to provide a platform for children and youths to present their experiences and views on activities and programmes meant to enhance their psychosocial and mental wellbeing.