Social and Emotional Learning -SEL

What is Social Emotional Learning?

What is Social Emotional Learning

    Social and emotional learning (SEL) is crucial in the current local context where the empirical evidence shows that there is an obvious deterioration in ethical standards in society. Most probably the educational gaps are linked to a society that less understand the values of democratic principles, unhealthy living that increase noncommunicable diseases, and stress-led psycho-social problems. The National Education Commission (NEC) states that the quality of Education has not risen to meet national expectations in certain important aspects as befitting the aspirations of a nation with a long tradition of education with enlightened ethical and social values , therefore adding a significant value for socio-emotional learning: 

“By the time a child leaves school he/she should be able and motivated to develop through experiential learning, to be a team member, to share and care, to be tolerant and respectful of the rights of others, sensitive, unbiased, friendly, and compassionate; practically and technically skilled in the broadest sense; able to use theory to understand situations, and to think critically, logically, inductively, deductively, analytically and holistically; and be healthy both mentally and physically”. (NEC, 2016)

Based on NEC’s recommendations for education quality development, as well as experience with current primary and secondary education practices, the following could be identified in support of social and emotional learning:

  • The need to nurture a continuous sense of concern for one another: by understanding the value of mutual respect for other’s values as well as having the ability to analyze what is best for the majority.
  • The need to give adequate space for recreational activities and promote child participation in cultural and artistic activities, and
  • The importance of facilitating children to engage in physical activities which are necessary for their personality development as well as to become healthier individuals.

The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning in Child Development and Education 

    Social and emotional learning is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

    SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy and just communities

Five Social Emotional Learning Competencies 


    The framework of social-emotional learning has described Self- Awareness, Social Awareness, Responsible Decision Making, Self-Management, and Relationship Management as key effective practices of SEL, which will have both person-centered and environmental focuses (Zins et al, 2004).  


    Self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across varied contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose. 

The following changes may be observed with self-awareness:

Identifying ones’ emotions, and how and why the emotions are generated 

Appropriate self-perception

Recognizing ones’ strengths and weaknesses 

Self-confidence to execute diverse tasks 

Self-efficacy when executing tasks 


Self-management is the ability to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. This includes the capacities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation and agency to accomplish personal and collective goals. 

The following changes may be observed with increased self-management

The ability to manage impulses caused by emotions or personal needs 

Being able to manage stress

Showing self-discipline and behaving appropriately 


The ability to work towards goals

Being organized 

Social Awareness

    Social awareness is the ability to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts. This includes the capacity to feel compassion for others, understand broader historical and social norms for behavior in different settings, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

The social awareness of an individual could be identified through: 

Taking perspective over personal attributes 

Empathic responding 

Tolerating and appreciating diversity 

Showing respect for others

Relationship Skills

    Relationship skills are the ability to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed.

Better relationship skills can be identified through: 

The ability to communicate ideas clearly and appropriately 

Having the interest and skills in social engagement

The ability to develop trustworthy and productive relationships 

The ability of teamwork

Responsible Decision-Making

    Responsible decision-making is the ability to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. This includes the capacities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being.

Responsible decision-making could be measured based on the following: 

The ability to identify problems 

The ability to analyse situations, their outcomes, and the relativity of problems 

Ability to solve problems

Having the skills in evaluating

The ability to summarized 

Showing ethical responsibility

The Social Emotional Competencies and the Relationships With School, Family, and Community Contexts

    The above-mentioned 5 competencies depend on wider contexts – such as, the classroom where the child is learning, the school, the family, and the community where the child is living. Social and emotional learning depends on the conduciveness of the classroom. The teacher or the teachers (who teach different periods of the day in secondary classes) play a vital role to foster SEL in classrooms. In addition, adequate classroom space, and supportive learning equipment for child-friendly and activity-based learning will enhance SEL. Institutional policies and the culture that recognizes the importance of SEL are the base for classroom-level SEL. Hence, the school administration at the Provincial Education Departments, and the Ministry of Education must have the policies to sustain SEL in schools. The family and a conducive home environment are also vital to develop social and emotional skills among children. The recognition of SEL among the family will allow family members to practice and nurture emotional and social wellbeing. At the outer margin of the SEL model lays the community. The community values and behaviors, and most importantly community networks, significantly influence individual behaviours.  The social and emotional content of a community is influenced by the culture, religion, and history of a particular society.

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