This content comes from the interactive youth version of the 2019 GEM Report. It tells a story that brings to life some of the key messages in our policy paper: Education as healing: Addressing the trauma of displacement through social and emotional learning that is being presented at a side event during the UN General Assembly.
This week at the General Assembly, the GEM Report, FHI 360 and the Lego Foundation are coming together at an event available to watch online to discuss a range of promising socio-emotional learning practices that have real potential for large-scale impact in fragile and humanitarian contexts. One of the key calls to action relate to the need for teachers to have better training to provide psychosocial support to migrant and refugee students who have suffered trauma. In this blog, Busra, a teacher of Syrian refugees in Turkey, describes the positive impact of receiving training to support her with her day-to-day work.
I worked in a temporary education center in Turkey for one and a half years as a psychological counsellor where all the students are Syrian. I taught about 500 students in primary and high school. They had Turkish lessons as well as Arabic , math, science and sports lessons. Some of my students have lost their family members or friends. My role was to strengthen the students’ capability in dealing with problems, helping them to adapt, and helping them deal with the trauma that they’ve had because of the war, loss of close ones and migration.
I took the Ministry of Education’s trauma education for psychological counselors. I also took lessons from non-government organisations and some associations. It was one of the best training sessions I’ve ever attended. I can intervene more professionally with traumatized students. It helped us to approach students in a more sensitive way when dealing with their problems. It helped on separating problems, determining whether the issue is trauma-based or not. For example, it is important to tell the difference between whether the students’ failure is based on trauma or just laziness.
The better the pupils are spiritually, the better their behaviour in the classroom, the better their friendships, the better they can relate to the teachers and the better they do in education.
Displaced learners have often had traumatic experiences of violence and conflict. Studies in high income countries have reported post-traumatic stress disorder rates ranging from 10% to 25%. In low and middle income countries, rates as high as 75% have been reported.
Recommendation: Prepare teachers of migrants and refugees to address diversity and hardship
Teachers in displacement situations need to be sensitive to the particular difficulties displaced students and parents face, and be able to reach out to their communities. While teachers are not counsellors, they can be trained to recognize stress and trauma and to refer those who need help to specialists. Where there are no specialists, teachers should be able to serve as some families’ only access to such services.