The need to improve the psychosocial well-being of learners and educators has come into sharp focus as a result of a number of troubling incidents in South African schools. Psychosocial wellbeing is a critical enabler of teaching and learning.
Through the Psychosocial Support Directorate, the DBE partnered with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) to bring together education stakeholders, partners, researchers, non-governmental organisations and development partners to shape a model of Psychosocial Support (PSS) for the sector. The symposium, which was held at the DBE in Pretoria on 02 April 2019, was co-chaired by Dr Granville Whittle, Deputy Director-General for Social Mobilisation and Support Services, and Mr Godwin Khosa, Chief Executive Officer of the NECT.
The symposium reflected on effective systems to improve learner psychosocial wellbeing. Key expert presentations were rendered by Professor Mark Tomlinson (Stellenbosch University), Professor Ronel Ferreira (University of Pretoria) and Dr Goodman Sibeko (University of Cape Town) on successful research-based mental health/wellbeing interventions in South African schools, including the role of non-specialist workers, and resilience building.
Drawing on the DBE draft strategy on PSS in the basic education sector, a model for PSS, developed by the DBE and the NECT, was presented to solicit buy-in, input and establish partnerships for its implementation. The initiative was well received and overwhelmingly supported, with inputs submitted for refinement. Both Dr Whittle and Mr Khosa emphasised the need to address the impact of social and emotional challenges on learning and teaching in a collaborative way, in order to strengthen the work already done by the DBE and Provincial Education Departments (PEDs).