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Prioritizing teachers’ mental health not to affect learners

National Chairperson of the Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA), Johnson Nzioka, and the Presidential Advisor on mental Health, Dr. Frank Njenga, have advocated for concerted efforts in addressing mental health ailments among teachers that attributed to increased reports of suicide cases among teaching staff.

Nzioka noted that it was vital for the matter to be officially addressed and adequate measures taken to curb the increasing mental illness cases among tutors in the country.

“We made a clarion call to all head teachers and heads of schools, to help identify teachers who need attention. Through qualified medics, we trained them to detect staff members that might be in distress,” said Nzioka.

He added that high blood pressure and sugars are the most common ailments most teachers suffer from due to the many expectations, set for them by their employers to perform.

“Pressure from the parents, the employer and high targets set by the Ministry to achieve, contribute tremendously to teachers going into depression and anxiety. Mental wellness should be well addressed to counter this, before it goes out of hand.” Nzioka added.

Nzioka was speaking on the sidelines of the 18th Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA) meeting in Mombasa, where primary school heads are congregated for the Association’s annual conference.

Dr. Frank Njenga urged teachers to frequently check, assess and consult on their mental health and wellbeing.

Njenga added that teachers play a central and important role in the society. The weight of the responsibilities and expectations the society placed on the teachers compared to the provision of resources is one of the reasons teachers were going through mental health issues.

“Teachers are members of society and are afflicted by very similar conditions that afflict every member of society,” said Njenga.

In a speech read by Dr. Julius Olayo, Director Human Resource management and development at the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) representing TSC Chief Executive Officer, Nancy Macharia, teachers were urged to leverage on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and acquit themselves with basic knowledge as envisaged in the implementation of the Competence based curriculum (CBC).

Macharia said this will help develop creativity which includes going beyond the curriculum and explores learning approaches which help develop the cognitive functions of learners from their formative years.

“Twenty first century lessons are learner centered and require teachers’ creativity to have the core competence of CBC embedded in all learning areas. It will develop the imagination, critical thinking and problem solving of learners in a wide discipline scope,” said Macharia.

By Fatuma Said and Andrew Hinga

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