Thursday 11 February 2021

As part of the Connecting Classrooms Global programme, the British Council organised a virtual event to discuss how policy makers can identify the issues relating to health and well-being in schools, assess the needs for policy and practice and then apply their learning so that it meets the needs of their country school systems.

The event brought together Ministers of Education, policy makers and senior education practitioners from Palestine, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and the UK. 

During the event, the Minister of Education of Jordan, HE Dr. Tayseer Al-Nuaimi, underlined the importance of having a clear action plan across MENA countries to address well-being and mental health issues for students in schools. He also referred to the many challenges that students all over the region are currently facing since Covid-19 started. His Excellency spoke of difficulties that students are facing such as the extended lockdowns, not being able to communicate clearly, less mobility, less creativity all of which have created high stress levels with students. Education systems should address these through a clear plan that takes into account the link between wellbeing and learning.

HE Prof Marwan Awartani Minister of Education in Palestine stressed the importance of establishing practices that promote mental health and well-being in schools. He provided many recommendations such as establishing a well-being education forum to act as a reference for decision and policy makers across the region. He also called for drawing on some experiences from influencers and active people at countries’ level, especially under the current challenges resulting from covid-19, underlining the importance of agreeing on a specific definition for well-being, engaging students and children in any relative steps and listening to their opinions, suggestions and recommendation regarding their concerns as they are the centre of the education and teaching process. 

His excellency also emphasized the importance of enhancing positivity and adapting to changes imposed by the pandemic, in addition to making the students and their parent more resilient by maintaining hope and avoiding negativity in light of the mental pressures by the oppressing practices of the occupying authorities. He mentioned some of the most prominent interventions and achievements by the Ministry during Covid-19 regarding going back to schools plan, the adoption of blended education, the launch of Teams platform, the technological empowerment initiative and the education channels in addition to enhancing school health services and others.

Over the last 18 months the British Council in MENA has recognised the need to consider the mental health and well-being of learners and school communities and have organised events to promote dialogue and action on this critical issue in education. A pilot project was launched in MENA to support teachers implement activities in mental health and well-being in the classroom.  These activities offered key support for teachers around Sustainable Development Goal 3, for good health and well-being.  

Mayssa Dawi, Regional Schools Manager, MENA “In the MENA region, we held series of events as part of the Connecting Classrooms programme to address the issues of children’s mental health and well-being and discuss policy and practice from MENA and the UK. Despite a difficult operating environment as a result of Covid-19 and subsequent school closures across the globe, the programme continues to make a positive contribution by helping to boost student confidence through new or different teaching practices as well as increase students’ interest and enjoyment in learning”.

Finally, Dr. Al-Nuaimi, stated that Ministries are taking significant efforts to keep  students and their teachers connected and as much as possible harness the challenges of Covid 19, where  different modes of communication and platforms have been established so that there is connection and communication between students and teachers.

Connecting Classrooms is a global programme for schools, designed to prepare young people for life in a global society and work in a global economy. We support teachers to develop their classroom practice in core skills – the six essential skills that young people need to prosper in the 21st Century. This will help them shape the future for themselves and generations to come. Connecting Classrooms is a partnership between the British Council and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.