Basic life-saving skills for youth workers and children affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNICEF works to empower over 350 adolescents and 50 youth workers with basic life-saving skills
From January to June, UNICEF and partners worked to train youth workers in Yerevan and three other marzes to deliver basic life-saving skills to adolescents affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. UNICEF’s concept of basic life-saving skills includes training of core competencies leading to self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, social awareness and responsible decision-making, which eventually lead to post-conflict reconstruction and social development.
Hasmik Aleksanyan, UNICEF Adolescent Development Officer, recalls how the concept of the project was developed.
“Amidst our ongoing response to the humanitarian situation as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, we assessed the needs of adolescents and young people, and it became clear that we need to work on essential skills that would help them to cope with the various age-specific challenges, as well as those arising from the pandemic and the conflict. Together with partners, we examined the experience of different countries and decided to work on the development of social and emotional skills and basic life skills in general. The present training curriculum that UNICEF developed focuses on 16 basic life-saving skills, adapted to the context of Armenia. A prerequisite to starting the training for adolescents, was the capacity building of youth workers. So far, we have delivered the training in Aragatsotn, Gegharkunik, Tavush, and Yerevan. We look forward to reaching other regions of Armenia starting from July. At the end of the project, we plan to post the full curriculum of the training on UNICEF website, making it accessible to all students and professionals.”
The project has been of major success due to the strong partnership with Armenian civil society organizations. Here’s an account of their experience!
“These trainings are important, first of all, because they are carried out in the marzes but also because this is another step to improve the quality of education. We provide professionals with new working methods and new tools. Through this project, we have reached out to NGOs working in the field of education, school counselors, principals, teachers, and other professionals working with adolescents, who can really make a difference in the community and in the marz in the future.”
“During the training course, we not only study the 16 skills, but also practice various group-work skills, such as how to from a group, set rules, and make sure that everyone is heard. Then we begin to explore the much-needed 21st century skills one by one: self-awareness, stress management, emotional regulation, positive thinking, self-esteem, interpersonal relationship skills and effectiveness, empathy, listening skills, handling disputes, managing relationships, confident communication, thinking skills, goal setting, decision making, problem solving, critical and creative communication, workability skills, resilience. Needless to say, these are essential skills for everyone from early childhood to adulthood, however, we hardly talk about such topics at school or in the family.”
“I learned new methods and acquired new skills in working with children and adolescents. The sets of new activities and quizzes in the training module are of particular importance, I will surely use them in my work with children to make our session more interactive. After the training we had the opportunity to work individually with the trainer several times, which was quite helpful for me as a professional.”
“I have been teaching life-saving skills at our school for already 17 years. We have methodological guidelines for first to seventh grades, but the new guidebook on the 16 skills that I received is much more detailed and structured. It will help me make the classes at school more comprehensive and certainly offer more content matter to children. I enjoy teaching and have noticed that children are keen to always be present and participate in class as it provides them with practical skills that they can apply in every-day situations.”
“This training gave me the opportunity and skills to better understand adolescents, hence be able to work on and improve my communication with my students so that I can teach better. In a chemistry class, I always strive for my students to not only learn the correct formulas, but also acquire skills, such as communication, goal-setting or decision-making, that will help them to further explore the subject."
“It is not enough to just be a good pedagogue, a good chemist or a physicist, in order to work with adolescents. You must also be proficient in psychology. You must find a common language with your students so that you can motivate them to learn and to make sense of your subject. This is why I give much importance to these trainings. I wish more teachers from my school could benefit from it, and hope that this will be continuous. It is the imperative of our time to mainstream the teaching of life-saving skills across the school curricula. And it is the right direction in order for us to provide quality education and raise healthy, resourceful and grounded young adults.”