14th December 2018
Mental Health, Human Rights Advocacy Thumbs-Up the SLPP Free Education
By Kona Seibure (09/09/18)
The Advocacy for Mental Health and Human Rights has congratulated the New Direction's free quality education scheme in Sierra Leone.
The provision of free education is a welcome idea but AMHHR is concerned that it lacks enough evidence of mental health support for young people who may require such support to attain their full potential in education. President Bio with First Lady Fatima and Chief Minister Dr. David Francis, right).
Young people with mental health problems face continued risks to their health and wellbeing and such risks can be increased in schools as they may struggle to deal with the challenges of education and may face exclusion due to their behavior which may sometimes be challenging and also due to their learning difficulties.
They may equally find it difficult to cope with the rigours of life and the stress of education only increases their difficulties. A lack of support in the classrooms or the school environment will prevent them from enjoying the full benefits of the quality free education programme and thereby deny them their rights to access knowledge.
The rights of young people in education, with mental health problems, especially those who have experienced trauma and lack the capability to perform and attain independently, should be guaranteed through all stages of their learning. (Photo below: Education Minister Alpha Wurie on the right path).
Our research has shown that a big gap exists in human and material resources required to meet the needs of this group of students and we also learnt that most teachers lack the right skills to facilitate the education and learning of young people with special education needs in a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising manner.
One of the major principles of the Ottawa Charter of health promotion, requires everyone to be given opportunity to develop personal skills by creating an enabling environment for it to be possible. As an organisation involved in raising mental health awareness and providing advocacy support to schools in the Bo District, AMHHR believes that creating the right environment, with a focus on well-being in schools is the way forward for quality education, as it can lead to significant improvements in children's mental health and social and emotional skills. We are aware that well-being provision in schools can also promote resilience and thereby lead to reductions in classroom bullying and dropout rates of vulnerable students.
AMHHR therefore advocates for equality in opportunities for all students, to ensure that our young people with mental health problems and learning difficulties are guaranteed a system of education that would identify their capabilities, create an enabling environment and promote their resilience to stay in school and gain skills to participate and contribute to national development.
AMHHR is using this opportunity to call on the government of Sierra Leone to take this concern seriously and make it a ‘must do’ when fully implementing the much acclaimed education programme.
Courtesy: Kona Seibure (Founder/CEO). Advocacy for Mental Health and Human Rights (AMHHR) is a rights based grassroots mental health advocacy charity dedicated to improving the lives of young people and persons living with mental health problems.