On International Day of Happiness, Salzburg Global Fellows Call for Social and Emotional Learning

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Mar 20, 2019
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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On International Day of Happiness, Salzburg Global Fellows Call for Social and Emotional Learning

Greater recognition and implementation of Social and Emotional Learning is needed to help develop happier, more resilient children and for fairer, kinder, more inclusive societies Illustration: Salzburg Global Seminar/Wolfgang Irber

Depression is one of the leading causes of adolescent ill health and disability worldwide, so what can parents, educators, communities and policymakers do to help promote psychological wellbeing and reduce mental health difficulties? 

On International Day of Happiness, a group of Salzburg Global Fellows answer this question resoundingly: offer more Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).

In a Salzburg Statement for Social and Emotional Learning education leaders, influencers, researchers and practitioners from 31 countries call for prioritization of SEL in education reform. 

“Social and emotional skills are key human capabilities that allow individuals to manage their emotions, work with others, and achieve their goals. They are crucial for the wellbeing and success of every child and adult, and for the future of our societies and economies. 

“In a complex, fast-moving world, it is imperative that we equip all learners for new challenges and opportunities. Evidence shows multiple long-term benefits from embedding social and emotional learning (SEL) opportunities in education in both formal and non-formal contexts. SEL can contribute to more inclusive, dynamic and productive schools, communities and workplaces, and can in the long term save governments money and accelerate productivity.

“We believe that global and national education policies, practices and systems should put SEL at the center of ‘whole person’ development from birth.”

Download the Salzburg Statement for Social and Emotional Learning (PDF)

Besides improving mental health, SEL is also an answer to several other concerns facing educators and policymakers today, including how to help the next generation prepare for a rapidly changing workforce and how to foster greater social cohesion in times of mass migration and community upheaval.

Together, the Fellows call for all formal and informal education settings to “explicitly include SEL in their pedagogical, curriculum and assessment practices across all ages from early childhood through adolescence to adulthood – the sooner, the better.”

Families, communities and the students themselves are also urged to take action, with the Statement addressing them (as well as teachers, education leaders, businesses and policymakers) directly. 

“Social and Emotional Learning is one of the most important education reform topics of our time,” explains Dominic Regester, the program director at Salzburg Global responsible for designing, developing, and implementing programs on education. “The skills and competencies that SEL programs can help all learners develop are valuable for the economies of tomorrow, for fairer, kinder, more inclusive societies, for psychological wellbeing and for helping to achieve better learning outcomes for all students, but especially the most vulnerable.”

The Statement was a direct outcome of the December 2018 program, Social and Emotional Learning: A Global Synthesis, which was held in partnership with ETS, Microsoft and Qatar Foundation International, together with additional partners, the British Council, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank. 

In addition to the Statement, Fellows of the program have also committed to launching a new global alliance to take this work forward. The global alliance has four goals: 

  • Advocate for SEL around the world;
  • Facilitate collaborative projects and events;
  • Provide high-quality resources for educators; and
  • Support cutting edge research into SEL. 

More information is available at www.selalliance.org  

The December 2018 program built on Salzburg Global’s long track record on educational policy and innovation. It forms part of the multi-year series Education for Tomorrow’s World, which aims to address emerging challenges and opportunities for education, exploring new approaches to learning, skills and inclusion for radically different societies.