Training of school counsellors in protracted conflict situations

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Helpdesk Query:

In what ways have programmes sought to identify and train school counsellors in protracted crises situations? What lessons can be learned from this?

What measures have worked best in supporting the well-being of teachers and other education staff (male and female), and their ability to support children’s well-being?

What modalities have demonstrated their effectiveness and their ability to be promoted at scale?


This report summarises available literature and evidence relating to the above two specific questions. The geographical focus of this research is Syria and neighbouring countries. However, examples of evidence from different contexts are also drawn to inform this review. Education and psychosocial support are purported to have a dynamic and mutually reinforcing relationship. The Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report for 2011 (UNESCO 2011) focused on education in conflict settings and recognised the importance of psychosocial interventions in addressing the negative effects of conflict, including depression, trauma, shame and withdrawal, which can have significant consequences for individual learning.

According to UNICEF (2009) effective child-centred learning is important in promoting the psychosocial well-being of both learners and teachers. Evidence shows that students’ relationships with teachers are important predictors for academic performance and positive health and social behaviours. Several meta-studies identified perceptions of teacher fairness and teacher respect for students as important contributors to resilience and psychosocial wellbeing.

To strengthen its efforts in promoting psychosocial support within educational programming in emergencies, UNICEF, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, amongst others have emphasised the importance of training teachers and school counsellors. In the context of the Syrian conflict, the influx of Syrian children has stretched educational resources in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, and an urgent concern is that, in addition to the shortage of material resources in these contexts, most teachers have not been trained in addressing the needs of traumatised children, some of whom may exhibit difficult behaviours (Sirin & Rogers-Sirin, 2015; Shuayb, Makkouk, & Tuttunj 2014).

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