In many UNRWA fields of operation children are exposed to violence, conflict, loss and displacement. In these exceptionally difficult circumstances education is of great importance as it brings children a sense of normalcy, hope for the future and an opportunity for developmentally appropriate activities. It is crucial that educators understand this, and schools provide a child-friendly environment that fosters psychosocial well-being, resilience and coping.
How to discuss a crisis with children
Content vs context
My Voice-My School purposefully focuses on the topic of quality education as the central idea for the project and video discussions. This topic was chosen not only because of its universal importance but also because it applies equally to all young people. It allows for equitable discussion in a way that a focus on refugees or conflict would not. That is not to say that the context of the classes should be ignored. The education experience of the two classes in the video calls will be different. They will be affected by a range of factors that include the political, social and economic realities in which the respective schools are situated.
Potentially sensitive topics
The context of the video calls cannot be ignored and have the potential to raise sensitive topics, including:
Education should encourage rather than avoid debate, but should be sensitive to the feelings and opinions of the students in the class. It is your responsibility as the teacher to facilitate a balanced and reasoned discussion. Students may express an opinion that could be considered offensive or controversial to others in the discussion. If you let controversial statements go unchecked, this will close down the class discussion.
During the My Voice-My School lessons, there are a number of opportunities available to prevent and manage potentially sensitive issues arising.
Lesson 1: Framing the debate
Lesson 2: Creating class guidelines
Lesson 2: Reframing questions
Lessons 3, 6 & 9: Challenging controversial comments
Working within school policies
Consult school staff with expertise in this area, such as a school counsellor. The following websites also contain further guidance.
Teaching Controversial Issues, Oxfam
Tackling Controversial Issues in the Citizenship Classroom, CDVEC Curriculum Development Unit
Human Rights, Conflict Resolution And Tolerance Toolkit for Teachers, UNRWA
Citizenship / English | Ages 7-11, Ages 11-14
My Voice-My school gives students the opportunity to share their ideas about education and their future. The project is grounded in the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, with a focus on Goal 4 Quality Education. These lesson plans and resources for ages 9-12 are based on video conversations between schools.
Citizenship / English | Ages 11-14, Ages 14-16
My Voice-My School focuses on the topic of quality education as enshrined in the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Connecting UNRWA's schools with partner schools overseas, the project seeks to stimulate student conversation about quality education and what individuals and communities can do to help make it a reality for all.