Updated: Mar 22
The COVID-19 pandemic for two years had put the education sector in a challenging position as students as well as teachers could not attend classes as normal. The Ministry of Education (MOE) had concerns about the effects of the prolonged restrictive COVID-19 measures on children especially since there are rising cases of gender-based violence in families combined with other social, mental and emotional challenges children face during these difficult years.
In this regard, thirty-five (35) school welfare officers have received certificates in the Gender Responsive Programme for Psychosocial support to Children in schools in Guyana.
This programme is intended to offer a gender-sensitive approach to the psychosocial needs of children and stigma as they return to school.
Education Specialist at the Ministry of Education, Olato Sam said this will help the school system respond to the physical, mental, emotional and psychosocial dimensions of students’ health and wellbeing.
Sam explained “The system has had to grapple with the pressing question of what policies, procedures and practices coupled with professional development experiences can prepare schools to better respond to the behavioural and the social and emotional needs of our students. This highly relevant and timely intervention would be a direct response to that question.”
In his remarks, European Union Representative Federico Suarez noted that children are exposed to various forms of violence in schools, which can have long-lasting effects on a child’s physical and emotional development.
“The funds UNICEF received has therefore equipped school welfare officers to address the varying forms of trauma resulting from violence experienced by some students on a daily basis. It is heartening to know that the school welfare officers will operationalise the rollout of the programme in the school system,” Suarez said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Representative for Guyana and Suriname for UNICEF, Irfan Akhtar said the schools are not only for learning but is also a safe space for children.
“So, schools are not only for learning and gaining academic knowledge, improving skills which is for personal development, social development and to be good citizens but as well as being protected from violence,” the UNICEF Representative stated.
This programme was funded by the European Union (EU) through the spotlight initiative and implemented by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the University of Guyana.