Inspired Teachers Nurture and Protect Students
“Children are more open now and they feel confident to come to us teachers directly with their issues..."
“Children are more open now and they feel confident to come to us teachers directly with their issues, concerns, and needs. We also have good collaboration with parents and caregivers now. We meet them often to exchange information and ideas on how to better support the students”
He went on to say that the 7-day training for teachers on guidance and counselling and child protection has made all the difference in his primary school in Mbozi District, Songwe Region. According to him, the training has enabled teachers to better recognize the students’ needs and issues and provide more appropriate care and support.
UNICEF supports the Government of Tanzania in training teachers and head teachers on the recently revised guidance and counselling guidelines, which now also include a component on child protection. The main goal of this training is to enable teachers and head teachers to identify issues and problems, and to identify needs for guidance, counselling and child protection in their schools, helping them take the necessary measures to better protect and care for their students.
Mbozi District currently has 64 primary schools with trained guidance and counselling teachers and head teachers. Each school is required to have two trained guidance and counselling teachers (one male and one female) selected by the students. However, given that many schools in Tanzania are over capacity with too many students, it is difficult for only two teachers to attend to the needs of all students.
The head teacher and two teachers at Itete primary school recognized the great value in the training they received and decided to train two additional teachers (one male and one female) at their own time and cost. The head teacher noted that the school has many students (2,532) and therefore two guidance and counselling teachers were not enough.
“When we returned from the 7-day training, we gave feedback to all the teachers at the school. Then we identified two additional teachers and started orientating them once a week after class. We gave them copies of the training material to read on their own and prepare for the sessions. They were able to grasp it and now they also support the students with guidance and counselling”
Tabia continued that, “before the training, we thought our responsibility was just to teach, but now we know we are also responsible to nurture the children, to build their confidence, teach them about life skills, help them to be more self-aware and also support them to report cases of violence and address any other issues that concern them.”
When the school receives serious cases of violence and abuse through the happy and sad box (a feedback mechanism for students used at schools in Tanzania), they inform the district social welfare officer for additional support. However, according to the head teacher, most of the cases of violence they receive take place in students’ homes, and none so far are from the school. They also get positive messages through the happy and sad box, where students thank the teachers for their support.
The head teacher noted the importance of the guidance, counselling, and child protection training, “when you lead a group of staff that is highly skilled and are self-aware, it really makes a huge difference; and makes my job easier too. We need to keep spreading the guidance and counselling and child protection training to many more teachers and do refreshers often.”
To date, UNICEF has supported more than 2,400 primary and secondary schools with guidance and counselling and child protection teacher training. Teachers and head teachers are now better equipped with skills to promote a safe learning environment and respond appropriately to cases of violence and abuse. UNICEF plans to continue supporting the government to reach more schools and teachers with this critical training as well as to integrate the guidance and counselling and child protection training program into the pre-service national teacher training curriculum so that all newly trained teachers are equipped with these important skills.