A case for mainstreaming social and emotional learning

By Siddhi Jain

New Delhi, Jul 19 (IANSlife): Highlighting the need to mainstream Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) within education systems, a new report launched on Nelson Mandela Day on Saturday, reviews the latest research on SEL, its impact on student health and school climate, and its transformative role in building happier classrooms.

Launched online by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP), and authored by over 20 experts from eight countries, the peer-reviewed guide titled "Rethinking Learning: A Review of Social and Emotional Learning for Education Systems" seeks to inform and impress upon policy makers and educationists the urgent need to mainstream social and emotional learning in education systems.

According to Dr Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP, SEL should be regarded not only as a remedial or preventive measure for those who are particularly vulnerable to stress, but also as a long-term solution to quality education.

"There is a confluence of research from multiple studies showing that students who participate in SEL programmes, relative to students who do not, demonstrate significantly improved social-emotional competencies, attitudes, and behavioural adjustment. In addition, research indicates that students who participated in SEL programmes also outperformed those students who did not participate in such programmes, on indices of academic achievement by 11-percentile points."

"Mainstreaming SEL into education can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 by allowing all learners to be better prepared to learn and to help develop empathy, compassion and a sense of solidarity with humanity," he said.

This guide comes at a time when due to the Covid-19 pandemic, over 1.6 billion learners are affected because of school closures in over 195 countries as of beginning of April 2020 at the peak of the pandemic. A key finding from the report calls upon the Member States of the United Nations (UN) to increase their education budgets to include training for teachers in SEL and the overall education system. Preliminary results show an impressive return on investment of about 7 to 10. Furthermore, preliminary results from the report show that the productivity loss for not spending on SEL interventions is about 29 percent of Gross National Income.

The report also recommends teacher training in SEL. "Initial training and professional development of teachers should include introduction to the basics of brain development, of the social brain, and of the social and emotional factors, promoting the cognitive, social and emotional development of children and adolescents."

It is also important that policymakers take a "strengths-based approach" to SEL assessment and monitoring, one in which students' social and emotional strengths and capacities are at the fore; and to not adopt standardised student learning assessments, which will pave the way for the promotion of students' positive development.

The Global Collective for SEL and Digital Learning was also launched by Maldives' education minister Dr Aishath Ali and Sri Lanka's Minister of Education, Sports and Youth Affairs Dullas Alahapperuma. The multi-stakeholder Collective will pool ideas, experience and knowledge around SEL; and the wise, effective and ethical use of digital technology in education, to inform education policy and practice to achieve inclusive and equitable quality education.



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