Online school has been a struggle for students who have found it jarring to be out of a classroom environment. The radical changes to the average child’s life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have exacerbated this struggle. Household tension, financial worries, and social isolation are some of the many factors straining school-going children’s mental health. There is an abundance of research suggesting that a child’s academic achievement and emotional and mental health go hand in hand. While many assume that students drop out of school as a result of academic dissatisfaction, studies have shown that children do so more for emotional reasons – feeling left out, unable to cope with stress, or not getting along with teachers.
Recognizing the need to make students’ social-emotional health an integral part of distance learning, Saaya Health has developed culturally relevant content focusing on Social and Emotional Learning in collaboration with The Citizens Foundation (TCF) Pakistan and Zindagi Trust. Social and emotional education focuses on helping children recognize their emotions and learn the necessary coping methods to regulate them, establish positive relationships with peers and focus on active self-growth. Working towards truly eradicating disparity in the educational system means equipping all students with the ability to self-regulate and achieve prosocial goals. By creating content in Urdu geared towards school children, Saaya aims to level the playing field by providing accessible psychoeducation to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Our remote learning content is tailored to the age group of students and is based on concepts such as psychoeducation, critical thinking, emotional and relational skills, self-confidence, growth, and goal-setting behavior. With TCF we deliver the content through magazines while with Zindagi Trust we make use of technology by developing scripted voice notes to deliver content to students in a relaxed and engaging manner.
Our curriculum covers a wide range of topics that are relevant to the average school-going child, such as:
- Identifying and coping with emotions. For example, learning how anger impacts the body and the ways in which we can deal with our anger healthily.
- Managing stress and identifying stressors. Using age-appropriate analogies to explain complex concepts behind the fight/flight response and how we can practice mindfulness techniques such as breathing in stressful situations.
- Building social awareness and recognizing the resources we possess. Wider social issues such as bullying, gender equality, and accepting differences are discussed in child-friendly ways.
The curriculum has already reached thousands of students across the country. TCF Pakistan’s distance learning educational magazine, Ilm Ke Aangan, features psychoeducational content developed by Saaya, with a total of 8 issues and a reach of 30,000 students per issue. Zindagi Trust’s remote learning curriculum similarly features content on psychoeducation and coping skills geared towards students’ emotional health and has reached 3100 students. We have already reached 630 students with 8 voice notes, with further voice notes under development.
Teaching young people to make informed and responsible decisions, be aware of themselves and others, and maintain positive attitudes and values will go a long way in helping them adapt to the complex demands of today’s world. Ultimately, remote learning provides us with the unique opportunity to make such content accessible for more students than ever before, contributing not only to their academic success in the long run but also their motivation to contribute to their communities in the future.
Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) goals that you can track.
Mental Health issues are on the rise. According to the mental health foundation, 1 in 8 adults receives mental health treatment.