It is highly important for children to have a safe space within schools to foster their innate skills and face the challenges they come across and excel, noted a Qatar Foundation (QF) official.
“A safe space in schools is building strong relationship between students, their peers and the adults, which is critical to developing a sense of safety," Al Jawhara Althani, head of Wellbeing and Safeguarding at QF told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.
"Knowing that there are people who will celebrate their success and support them no matter what challenges they may face, helps students feel seen and heard. This leads to higher levels of engagement and better social, emotional and academic outcomes,” she explained.
Al Jawhara highlighted the importance of equipping young people with the knowledge, confidence, and skills beyond the classroom, and providing them with a safe space within schools to excel academically, and personally. Feeling safe at school also means being able to show up as their authentic self and have their culture, language, interests and ambitions honoured by those around them.
“Safe spaces are critical for learning because learning is about stepping outside of our comfort zone and taking risks. Learning can only happen when we are unafraid to fail publicly. This is just as true for adults as it is for children. We often learn more from our failures than our success and in order to develop the confidence and resilience we want our students enter the world with. We have to foster a safe and supportive community within our schools,” explained, the official.
Al Jawhara underscored that learning goes beyond the classroom and parents, siblings and the wider community have a lot in making children feel comfortable to learn.
“Listen to the kids in your life – to their fears, hopes, dreams and to the stories they are eager to share. Ask them how their day went, who their friends are, and what they are learning. Do not relegate them to “children-only” spaces and conversations. We all carry some responsibility for the children in our lives. We are their village,” she suggested.
Al Jawhara stated that since 2018, QF schools have been working hard to develop safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures to ensure that students always feel safe and supported and know who to reach out to if they need support. She also pointed out that QF students regularly interact with an array of entities and centres to enhance their learning experience and to obtain a sense of the real world.
“All decisions that are made must be made with the best interest of the child in mind. All staff have been trained to understand their role in keeping children safe. QF Schools have also been promoting safeguarding and advocating for a more systematic approach by collaborating with ministries, mental health services and other stakeholder across the country, concluded, Al Jawhara.
Al Jawhara Althani