Post war psychological support for Lebanese children
In the context of UNESCO’s Post War Psychosocial Support project, the Beirut regional office organized several activities in South Lebanon and the Bekaa area, aiming to assist teachers, children, and animators from the worst war-affected areas in relieving their tension and stress and dealing with other difficulties. This ongoing two-phase project started in October 2006 in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, and has since offered assistance to around 250 teachers and animators from 170 public schools and 10 community learning centers, in addition to thousands of children from war-ravaged areas.
The selection of schools and teachers was accomplished by the Educational Directorates in the Lebanese Ministry of Education. The followed criterion for schools was the extent of which they were affected by the war. As for the teachers, the selection process focused on their interests, commitment, and primary education, and they were mainly arts, music, or social sciences teachers.
The selected group participated in seven five-day workshops, which covered basic concepts in psychology, education, animation, active learning, and the means to deal with stress and tension through drama, play, drawing, and handcraft. A part of the work was also dedicated to increasing mine awareness.
Different motivations affected the process of the workshops. The teachers were mainly motivated by receiving the UNESCO DSA at the end of the day, while others participated upon the request of the school’s principal, while others appreciated the chance to share, learn, and contributing to the workshop.
The feedback provided by the teachers differed from one region to another, and sometimes teachers from the same region offered different remarks. Some were responsive and benefited from the workshops and the applied techniques, stressing their usefulness on a personal level and for later implementation with the children. On the other hand, some were more defensive and found it difficult to express themselves through plays, songs, and dances.
In addition, the participation of Community Learning Centers’ animators in the workshops along with public school teachers had a positive impact on both parties. The trainers were socio-cultural animators with expertise in animation, active learning, psychology, arts, and drama.
At the end of the sessions, handouts related to the workshop themes were distributed to the participants, in both Arabic and English.
In the mean time, a parallel activity was organized: a mobile caravan including games, artistic and theatrical activities for children was on the move between 21 villages in South Lebanon during October 2006. Around 3500 children participated in the activities that were animated by members of the Lebanese Association for Active Learning, with the assistance and participation of local associations and municipalities in each village.
The children’s participation and enthusiasm in these recreational and educational activities were very high, especially that the activities took place in October 2006, which was close to the war period that spread between July and August 2006.
The same teachers participated in the second phase of the project which took place between March and June 2007. It consisted of six three-day workshops, which dealt with practical issues that need to be directly implemented with the children, such as plays, writing, and drawing. The trainers were members of the international NGO “Right to Play”, and the local association “Fun’s Club”.
The group organized several activities for around 5300 children from different classes and public schools, which included drawing, writing, and a “crafts’ contest”. The 170 participating schools received kits from UNESCO, with each kid being offered a stationary kid.
A committee of specialists will select photos of 58 works out the ones that the children did, which will be published in a book including all the participants’ names.
In a similar project, 25 social assistants and educators from SOS children villages attended a five-day workshop at the UNESCO regional office, which focused on psychological support for children and their families, in addition to other social and animation skills.
Related Link : UNESCO Courrier