Psychosocial support in teacher curriculum

In light of the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on education, and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c) which acknowledges teachers as important to the successful achievement of the 2030 Education Agenda, World Teachers’ Day has become an annual event to focus on the remarkable achievements and reflect on ways to address challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession[1] .

Children cope and thrive through the support of teachers to acquire resources or assets for life that include cognitive competences, which are the ability to master complex demands in particular contexts[2] . Cognitive competencies include a positive sense of self-esteem, an active lifestyle, as well as a sense of structure and meaning into the child’s life[3] . Components of competent performance include knowledge, cognitive and practical skills, attitudes, emotions, values and motivations.[4]  Sense of self is possible when teachers and parents instil positive self-esteem in children. This can give children a hopeful outlook to life which enables children to engage in active lifestyles characterised by a tendency to look into the future rather than the past, being proactive in life as opposed to being passive. Positive sense of self also promotes staying engaged and being part of what goes on in the child’s environment and having a ‘social life’.

One of the key psychosocial support outcomes is children’s social connectedness to friends or peers. In a school environment friends constitute an important circle of emotional and social support for children. Through friendship, social groups or peer dynamics, children learn important life skills including negotiation, leadership, cooperation as well as conflict and anger management. Children also develop a sense of social and cultural identity when together with peers they participate in school-based cultural activities such as music, drama and sports.

Teachers and educators are integral in the development of children and in making them feel important and worthy; encouraging and nurturing elements of cognitive competences which promote children’s psychosocial well-being.

Schools should have ways of identifying and supporting children who may be experiencing cognitive, emotional and social challenges. Therefore, psychosocial support should be mainstreamed or strengthened within teacher training curricular and learning materials in order to equip teachers with information and skills for providing psychosocial support to children.

[1] UNESCO (2018). World Teachers’ Day 2018 The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher. Available from: (Accessed 29 September 2018)

[2] Ulrich, Trautwein. (2009). Measuring cognitive competence.  Available from: (Accessed on: 29 August 2018.

[3] Nicolai, S. (2003a). Psychosocial needs of conflict affected children and adolescents. Background paper of theWorld Bank-IIEP Summer School (2003) held in Paris. Conducted by IIEP-UNESCO.

[4] Rychen, D.S. and Salganik, L.H. (Editors). (2001). Defining and selecting key competencies. Ashland, OH, US: Hogrefe & Huber Publishers.

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