United Nations, June 21: On World Refugee Day, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) called for more support to fill the gaps in training for teachers on trauma and psycho-social assistance for migrant and refugee students.
A new policy paper launched on Thursday by the agency’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report tackles the educational challenge of trauma, a condition experienced by some school-age migrant and refugee children, whose overall number has grown by 26 per cent since 2000.
"Teachers are not, and should never be regarded as mental health specialists, but they can be a crucial source of support for children suffering from trauma if they’re given the right training," said Manos Antoninis, Director of the GEM Report.
Many of these children have had traumatic experiences before leaving their homes, during the journey or while settling in a new community or country, which manifests in toxic stress with negative consequences that also affect their learning ability.
Eight years since the outbreak of conflict in Syria, the paper calls for better teacher training to provide psycho-social support to children who have lived through traumatic events.In Germany, one-fifth of refugee children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and unaccompanied minors are particularly vulnerable.
Meanwhile, one-third of the160 unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Norway – from Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia – suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and of the 166 unaccompanied refugee children and adolescents in Belgium, 37-47 per cent had severe symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD."Conflicts and displacement are not going away," Antoninis said. "They call for considerable changes in teaching practice that countries must work into their plans".
The report outlines that trauma is also high among the displaced in low- and middle-income countries, citing that 75 per cent of the 331 internally displaced children in camps in southern Darfur in Sudan met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, and 38 per cent suffered from depression.(UNI)