Social and emotional skills for sustainable development

Climate change, social imbalance and technological advances are issues that bombard us daily. But, who is responsible for proposing solutions? Adults or the new generations?

By Macarena Carregal y Mónica Estévez



Some time ago, the following post from a marketing company that has offices around the world appeared on LinkedIn, detailing the qualities they considered relevant for hiring employees, which to some extent reflect the global need to achieve a sustainable society:

“We are a people-first organization, which means the humans we hire matter more than anything. It's about how we treat each other. Hard skills can be taught, but these 13 soft skills are at the core of what we look for when making hiring decisions. If this resonates with you, we encourage you to apply on our website. We can't wait to meet you!”

Gratitude, self-awareness, responsibility, optimism, empathy, kindness, tenacity, curiosity, patience, conviction, humility, ambition, sincerity.""

Currently, there are many organizations that have begun to focus on the social-emotional skills of their collaborators, since they have come to define how prepared we are to live in a world that challenges us daily to adapt, to always learn and, above all, to live better with others to achieve sustainable development.

From the educational model of the Roberto Rocca Technical Schools Network, we recognize the capacity of each girl, boy and young person, as an individual who has the potential to achieve comprehensive personal development, and who can create and contribute to positive changes in the community. We seek to provide comprehensive support to each young person, so that they develop their potential to the fullest. We ensure that they find a space for support, and, above all, for positive development, offering instances to improve psychosocial and academic aspects in a personalized way, giving them the opportunity to find new talents, contribute to school life, develop social-emotional and work skills, and to consolidate, throughout their career, a Life and Career Plan that serves as a superhighway towards the achievement of their own objectives and the realization of their own life project.

Considering that current problems cannot be solved based on the paradigms that created them, from our educational model we work on the contents to safely provide the necessary tools for the new generations to face this challenge. For this reason, the model is aligned with the commitment made by the 193 member countries of the United Nations in 2015 in the ambitious agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the year 2030. We are aware that no development can be sustained without people and their bonds. And this is where social-emotional skills play a leading role.

People with social-emotional skills developed according to their age are better prepared to face everyday challenges, relate positively to others, and make responsible decisions for themselves and their environment. Social-emotional education helps students thrive in school and in life.

People are not born knowing how to manage emotions, solve problems and get along with others. These types of competencies must be developed explicitly, transversally and from a comprehensive pedagogical plan centered on the student and their environment.

We agree that, in order to achieve a transformation in the world, an internal transformation is necessary, which is why it is essential to include the social-emotional dimension in all areas of human formation.


How do we do it?

From the educational model of the Roberto Rocca Technical Schools Network, we base the learning plan for social-emotional skills on CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning). It focuses on five dimensions of competencies that make up social-emotional learning:

  • Self awareness: understand emotions, thoughts and values, and how they influence behavior in different contexts. Identify strengths and needs, and build a growth mindset.
  • Self control: managing one's own emotions, thoughts and behaviors, controlling impulses to set and achieve goals.
  • Social conscience: seeing things from the perspective of others and showing empathy, including understanding for diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts.
  • Skills to relate: communication, cooperation and conflict resolution skills to establish and maintain healthy relationships to effectively navigate environments with individuals and groups.
  • Responsible Decision Making: the ability to make constructive decisions and choices about personal behavior and social interactions in various situations, considering the consequences of our actions.

According to The Society for Research in Child Development and CASEL, students who are part of a social-emotional learning program improve their academic performance by an average of 11 percentage points, increase their prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing and empathy), improve their attitudes towards school and reduce the possibility of presenting symptoms of depression and stress. In addition, they increase their general well-being, including not only improvements in mental health, but also in physical health and social relationships.

In the short and medium term, learning social-emotional skills enables students to succeed in school and in daily life when they know and manage themselves responsibly, understand the perspectives of others, and can relate effectively to others. They know how to make responsible decisions on personal and social issues.

In the long term, increased social and emotional competence can improve the likelihood of high school graduation, preparation for post-secondary education, career success, positive family and work relationships; it can improve mental health, decrease criminal behavior, and create more engaged citizens.

On the other hand, the acquisition of these [social-emotional] skills reinforces the ability to acquire or enhance other skills, such as cognitive ones.

Thinking of a sustainable world, with citizens who think and act sustainably, we offer the girls, boys and young people who attend our programs curricular content created and curated for them in safe learning environments.

Our objective is to help them develop as people prepared to identify problems and design strategies to solve them. Capable of recognizing themselves, managing their emotions, using their abilities and, at the same time, being able to recognize and respect those of the other members of their family and community.

It sounds simple, but it takes meticulous and articulate work. Girls, boys and young people are the future managers for development and social mobility. In many circumstances, social-emotional skills increase the chances of getting out of poverty since they allow for better job offers, to retain jobs and to perform better in them. Social-emotional skills allow for healthier ties in the family, the community and society as a whole.

If, as UNESCO affirms, all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are integrated and action in one area will affect the results of other areas, then social-emotional skills are, without a doubt, the connecting thread between all the SDGs in order to contribute to reducing poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy greater peace and prosperity.

[1] Durlak, J.A., Weissberg, R.P., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D., & Schellinger, K.B. (2011). "The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions." Child Development.

[2] Hawkins, J.D., Kosterman, R., Catalano, R.F., Hill, K.G., & Abbott, R.D. (2008). "Effects of social development intervention in childhood 15 years later." Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 162(12), pp.1133-1141.

#RobertoRoccaEducationalPrograms #ETRR #RobertoRoccaEducation #SEL #Socioemotional Skills #Meaningful Learning


Macarena Carregal: es coordinadora del Equipo de Orientación Educativa en la Red de Escuelas Técnicas Roberto Rocca (desde Campana, Argentina), donde lleva a cabo proyectos de desarrollo personal, clima escolar, plan de vida y carrera, mentorías, familia y comunidad. Macarena estudió Licenciatura en Psicopedagogía en la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se ha especializado en educación emocional, aulas heterogéneas, metodologías de enseñanza activa, disciplina positiva, escuela de padres y mindfulness. A lo largo de su trayectoria, Macarena ha acompañado a docentes, familias y estudiantes como referente de orientación escolar en nivel inicial, primario y secundario y también ha trabajado realizando clínica psicopedagógica con personas con problemas de aprendizaje.

Mónica Estévez: es profesional en Derecho, recibida en la Universidad de Cartagena, Colombia; bibliotecaria escolar certificada (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) y Coach (Escuela Latinoamericana de Coaching and Mentoring). Desde 2008 ha trabajado en el sector educativo como bibliotecaria escolar y, a partir de 2013, como coordinadora de los programas educativos y comunitarios de la Fundación TenarisTuboCaribe. 


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