'Stressed students meeting stressed teachers at schools'
- Written by GEOFREY SERUGO
Highly stressed students are meeting stressed teachers at schools, creating chaotic psycho-social wellness situations for learners.
Speaking during the Stanbic National Schools Boot camp at Gayaza High School, Patricia Mulamba, a teacher at Mengo Senior School and counsellor urged the ministry of Education and Sports to empower all schools with a strong psychosocial wellness department.
Mulamba said several students face psychosocial factors such as stress, hostility, depression, and hopelessness which negatively affect their performances and healthy living in schools. She pointed out the rising suicide attempts and deaths among learners in the country.
“Let every school have counsellors - both male and female so that children can be comfortable and open up about the challenges they are going through. The officer of the senior woman or man in school should not just be the title. These people must be empowered, go through training to be able to handle these cases,” she said.
According to her, several children come from toxic homes dealing with psychosocial challenges only to be attended to by teachers equally facing similar stress challenges starting with low or no pay. She says the psycho-social wellness of children cannot be ignored anymore, especially in the era of social media and all its direct and indirect pressures. She says schools ought to offer a conducive environment where learners can think positively about themselves.
Moreover, many learners have not yet recovered from the Covid-19 lockdown and its aftereffects where many young girls were subjected to various forms of abuse including sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies.
“Parents must open their eyes widely because children don't know what to do. Sometimes they show us but they cannot talk because they are scared. It is very shocking, and painful, but now it is the new normal,” she said.
Diana Ondoga, the manager of corporate social investment at Stanbic Bank Uganda said the national school's championship is aimed at starting a mindset shift of believing that learners don’t need to look for a job but they can create them through creation of solutions for the problems in their communities.
“We want children to develop innovative ideas which can leverage technology and digitization. When an idea is placed on a digital platform, it allows it to scale across the world. We go beyond challenging them. We skill them in business planning, social media, sales and marketing sessions, career guidance, and psychosocial support and public speaking,” she said.
The winning schools and students will get prizes worth Shs 100 million. The prize items include; a solar system, laptops for winning students and teachers, a water system, phones, scholastic materials and sundry.
Odonga reminded teachers that their role is not only academic; they are mentors, therapists, because when the child is away from home, the teacher becomes their parent. She said it is important that teachers are equipped with counselling, therapy, and coaching skills.
That is because, except his/her internalized stress, a stressed teacher can't teach sense. Nor can a stressed student learn or make sense of what the stressed teacher is spewing out.
Which is why instead of "turning on" the student into learning whatever subject, our inherently stressed teachers "turn off" our children from learning anything.