Schools should provide social, emotional support

What you need to know:

  • So even as parents and teachers are keen to see the children settle into school and start learning, they should be reminded that these are different times and the young ones need as much social and emotional support, as they are being given academic support

Since last week, millions of learners have been returning to school, many of them after an almost two-year-long break.

There is excitement and relief in many corners of the country as the education of these children restarts.

There is, however, also concern and worry. Will the children be able to make up for the lost time? Shall the various curricula being proposed and used work? How safe can the children be kept from Covid-19?

Are the measures being put in place sufficient to prevent an outbreak of the spread in schools or to manage those who get affected? Are those measures being put in place by all schools anyway? The questions are numerous.

One of the things that should be at the forefront of the stakeholders is to understand what the children have been through the last two years and how to help them cope and adjust.

For one, some students have been able to make the most out of a bad situation. Stories have been shared across social media about how children are not interested in going back to school because they have a steady source of income. They do not see the importance of studying anymore.

In other quarters, the learners have been exposed to all sorts of things both good and bad. Studying on the internet came with a whole host of problems, including watching content unsuitable for children. For others, there is the challenge of helping them make sense of what they have experienced during the lockdown.

Many of them have suffered domestic violence in their homes. Some have seen their parents lose their source of income and as a result, have had to switch to other schools which are more affordable. Other learners are now fathers and mothers, an added responsibility that they need to grapple with even as they try and remember what it is to be a student or pupil and focus their energies on that.

As Mr Issa Matovu, an education expert, said in a story published by this paper on January 11 titled,

What awaits teachers as schools reopen today.

“Teachers should remember that the uncertainty of the past two years has been unsettling, and they need to focus on helping learners feel connected and be part of the school environment again.”

In addition to that, Ms Florence Namata, an educationalist, said: “Teachers are going to handle learners that have been working whereas others have already become mothers. We should make sure they fit into the process of learning.”

So even as parents and teachers are keen to see the children settle into school and start learning, they should be reminded that these are different times and the young ones need as much social and emotional support, as they are being given academic support.

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