Education Cannot Wait Develops Groundbreaking Curriculum for Crisis-affected Adolescents – Derived From Viktor Frankl’s Seminal Work ‘man’s Search for Meaning’
This first of its kind curriculum acknowledges the immeasurable resilience of adolescents living in crisis settings, encouraging them to use their experience to become their potential.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) – the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies – is developing a curriculum derived from the seminal work of world-renowned psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, and its related branch of psychotherapy, Logotherapy. The curriculum, which has been preliminary field-tested in Uganda, aims to fully tap into the resilience of girls and boys living in crisis settings.
Psychosocial support is a core component of the holistic education programmes supported by ECW and its partners to help adolescent girls and boys in armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate change-related disasters and protracted crises to cope with the incommensurable hardship and adversity they face.
“Crisis-affected girls and boys endure abnormal challenges of armed conflicts, widespread violations of their human rights, chronic insecurity and constant threats to their lives and sense of safety. To achieve quality learning outcomes and empower them to thrive towards their potential, one must address their trauma and experiences of adversity. By empowering them to find a meaning in their experience, they stand greater chances of healing, unleashing their resilience and becoming positive agents of change in all walks of life. Logotherapy is a forward-looking and profound approach that ignites the strength of the human spirit,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “With this ground-breaking curriculum we want to shift the dominant narrative that hardship prevents young people from achieving their goals or fully living their story of life. Viktor Frankl provides an empirical and inspiring example of how extreme hardship can actually fuel global contributions. At Education Cannot Wait, this is also our stance. We want to empower children and adolescents in armed conflicts and forcible displacement to turn their gruesome adversity into ultimate hope and capacity to shed their light of knowledge, wisdom and compassion onto their communities, nations and the rest of the world.”
Frankl posits that human beings can withstand significant suffering if they can access meaning and hope and recognize their choices and potential. Frankl tested his research while enduring Nazi concentration camps in World War II. The themes he conveys include dehumanization, profound loss, injustice, and unspeakable cruelty. Without making comparisons, Frankl presented logotherapy in his world-renowned book, “Man’s Search for a Meaning,” which is today universally recognized as one of the top schools of thoughts in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). Thus, all of these concepts are relatable and relevant to adolescent girls and boys living in conflict and disaster-affected communities.
By providing a curriculum as a global good, ECW aims to offer a structured alternative approach to partners who work with adolescents experiencing hardship. Through dialogue, reflection and activities focused on the life and teachings of Viktor Frankl – as well as role models such as Malala Yousafzai, Wangari Maathai, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela – young people will explore how to create connection, find meaning, imagine a different future, and contribute to the world in big and small ways.
ECW supported the field-testing of the curriculum package – titled “An Instruction Manual for Life” – with groups of adolescents in a non-formal community setting with upper secondary students in Northern Uganda in early 2021.
Initial results from the testing found that young people and facilitators enthusiastically embraced the curriculum as “relevant, exciting, engaging, and new.” Youth reported high satisfaction and showed that they learned and internalized key concepts. Facilitators expressed strong interest in the curriculum as they felt that local schools fell short in supporting adolescents in profound and critical thinking, individual expression and self-reflection to access their resilience, inner strength, hopes and dreams.
Based on the feedback of the field testing, ECW filmed introductory videos to accompany each of the three “blocks” of the curriculum: “Deep Dive”, “Find Your Meaning” and “Dream Big.”
Watch all the ECW Logotherapy Life Lessons Videos on our playlist.
Additional testing will be conducted before the curriculum is finalized and published.
For more information on the curriculum, please contact email@example.com