Making schools child-friendly and safe

School-based violence remains prevalent, not only in East Africa where ICS operates, but also in other parts of the world. Day and night, children’s rights are violated while at school or in the course of acquiring education. Worse though is that perpetrators of child abuses in schools are people known to victims.

The impact is quite big. From health effects to emotional distress, children feel hated, betrayed and demeaned. Thus, ending violence against children is key towards safeguarding the rights of children and giving them hope for a better tomorrow. On this basis, ICS-SP, together with other partners, is working round the clock to complement every effort geared towards having a learning environment that is child-friendly, safe and healthy.

Forms of violence in schools

Violence against children in schools occurs in various forms. While many countries, including Kenya and Tanzania have policies regarding child safety and protection, the world still lags behind in attaining a safe learning environment for our kids. Common forms of violence in schools include corporal punishment, sexual harassment, child marriages, discrimination, bullying, fighting, gangs and weapons in schools among others. Incidences like not being given bus transport to school and harassment by conductors are also prevalent.

Addressing Violence in Schools

In ending violence against children, ICS-SP, in collaboration with partners like REEP, remains committed to the course. For instance, when cases of child marriages are reported to REEP, they work closely with the police and other government institutions like the Teachers Service Commission to ensure that justice is served.

Giving children a friendly voice

One of the challenges with taming violence against children is that children hardly report. For those who do, they do it when it is too late or use wrong channels. At the end, actors find it hard to effectively act. This calls for better channels that are friendly to our innocent kids and future generation.

Government acts after Happy/Sad boxes in Tanzania

The impact of the C-Sema Child Helpline has been immense in ending violence against children. A case in point, Happy/Sad letterboxes affixed in schools within Temeke Municipality in Dar es Salaam turned out to be of great help in giving a voice to the voiceless and vulnerable children. Children in the region found the approach appropriate in sharing issues affecting them in school. Because of the outcome, the government to implement and strengthen relevant policies. Notably, abolition of corporal punishment and initiation of the school feeding programme.

“Initially, girls and boys would share latrine. This was frustrating especially for the girls as boys would peep through or make fun of them. The children posted this in Sad Opinion Boxes. The teachers saw the need, mobilized resources and constructed a separate toilet for girls. This was later posted in the Happy Box as a positive result”. Children’s Right Club, Temeke Municipality - Dar es Salaam

Today, children are actively engaged in other platforms like Child Rights Clubs, Children’s Assemblies and Children’s Council in Kenya and Tanzania respectively. During the clubs meeting, children are sensitized on rights and responsibility, risk identification and reproductive health related issues.

Even though Kenya and Tanzania have signed and ratified a number of legal frameworks for instance UNCRC and ACRWC, which are the foundation of the CPS, these frameworks have not been exclusively implemented.