Field Note: School-Based Intervention in Ongoing Crisis: Lessons from a Psychosocial and Trauma-Focused Approach in Gaza Schools
It is a complex challenge to design education in emergencies responses that meet local needs, are sensitive to local culture, build on international guidelines for best practice, and use research-based methods. This paper presents lessons learned from the implementation of the Better Learning Program, a school-based response in Gaza that combined psychosocial and trauma-focused approaches, and discusses how international guidelines were incorporated.The Better Learning Program intervention was designed as a partially manualized,1 multi-level approach to help teachers, school counselors, and parents empower schoolchildren with strategies for calming and self-regulation. The stepwise approach first targeted all pupils, then pupils who reported having nightmares and sleep disturbances. The goal was to help these students regain lost learning capacity and strengthen resilience within the school community. The intervention was implemented in 40 schools over two and a half years, with a target group of 35,000 pupils. Teachers and school counselors reported that the combined psychosocial and trauma-focused approach was compatible with their educational perspectives. The approach appeared to enable teachers to be more proactive when teaching pupils affected by war. This paper concludes with reflections and lessons learned.