IICBA Organizes a Webinar on Psychosocial Support to Teachers during COVID-19 Crisis

On 6 June 2020, UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) organized a webinar on 'Psychosocial Support to Teachers during COVID-19'. The objectives of the meeting were to deliberate on the psychosocial condition of teachers and the challenges they face in the COVID-19 crisis; to exchange experiences by countries in addressing issues related to teachers and teaching while designing education responses to COVID-19.

The session welcomed over 50 participants who included the Ministry of Education officials responsible for teacher development and management, specialist of psychosocial support, primary and secondary school teachers, teacher educators, education researchers, representatives of partner organizations, and UNESCO colleagues.

Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, gave the opening remarks. Afterwards, three country representatives, Dr. Jane Egau Okou, Commissioner, Teacher Instructor Education and Training, Ministry of Education and Sports, Uganda; Prof. Therese Mungah Shalo Tchombe, Emeritus Professor & Honorary Dean, University of Buea Faculty of Education and UNESCO Chair for Special Needs Education, Cameroon; and Ms. Mary Wanjiru Kangethe, Director of Education Programs, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, presented country experiences and practices of psychosocial support to teachers. In general, they introduced the contexts of the impact of COVID-19 on education and the psychosocial conditions of teachers in three countries, demonstrated measures and challenges of psychosocial support, and provided recommendations for the way forward.

The presenters reflected that the psychosocial support to teachers is lacking globally. In addition, ensuring safety of teachers and providing adequate trainings on ICT and other new skills are essential and effective psychosocial interventions. Moreover, peer support between teachers, appreciation and affirmation to teachers, and strong coordination between policy makers and educators are also useful aspects to consider while establishing a more comprehensive framework of psychosocial support.

The closing remarks were given by Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of IICBA, in which she pointed out that Dr. Yokozeki pointed out that the political characteristic of the COVID19 pandemic has magnified a lot of issues such as social discrimination, racial issues, and economic disparity, which has also negatively affected teachers. Teachers need comprehensive and thoughtful psychosocial support. They also have to be well equipped with psychosocial knowledge and skills to support students after school reopening.

IICBA is compiling resources for teachers to be able to use during school closure and school reopening which are free and low-bandwidth friendly. IICBA is also working on a virtual campus where teachers can do courses with certificates and download resources. The content on psychosocial support can be a part of it.