The Whole School Approach to Reducing VAC

Peter (15) and Simon (15), sons to a peasant farmer Maximilar (40’s) live under the sole care of their mother as the father was pushed out of home by the need to fend for the family hence hardly finding time to spend with the family at home. Due to harsh economic times, Maximilar confesses that she relied on the children as her source of labour without considering the need to give them time to attend to their studies and to play. The children were responsible for fetching sufficient water for family use from a water source that was a distance away from their home and attending to the family farms every morning and evening. Maximilar says, “On no occasion would I have imagined the need to have a family meeting with the children to understand their needs and ideas on how best I should care for them. My children were only there to be seen and I viewed them as inferior members of the family without any valuable idea to share”.

“I heard about the skilful parenting programme through the head teacher at my children’s school. This training lasted about four months. I was hesitant at the beginning but now I feel happier about caring for my children. Before the training, I would feel overpowered by competing responsibilities which made it almost impossible for me to create time for understanding and molding my boys’ behaviour. I was really ignorant about the best ways of guiding my children’s behavior hence I had constant conflict with them.” This narration gives insights into the link between parenting practices and behavior outcomes in children. While highlighting the positive changes that she realized after attending skilful parenting training, Maximilar states “Since I attended this training I understood that violence does not help”. According to her and her peers, violence and crime that children are subjected to often emanate from the behavioural challenges that they face in their early childhood. To help her children demonstrate a change of behavior, Maximilar adopted the newly acquired Skilful parenting skills and put them in practice back at home. She started investing her time and resources in her children as a means towards creating a safe family environment for them besides influencing their behavior modification patterns. She currently appreciates the need for family meetings that she regularly organizes as an avenue for open communication and discussions with her children.

Teachers at the school where Simon and Peter learn also appreciate our Whole School Approach to child protection. In this school, we have all teachers exposed to life skills training to enhance their capacity to respond to children’s needs. The current student enrolment of the school is 756 (367 boys & 417 girls) up from 735 (352 boys & 383 girls) in 2017 and 749 (374 boys &375 girls) in 2016. The school has 18 teachers and 3 subordinate staff. All the teachers have undergone training on life skills and positive discipline by ICS-SP. The school has an active life skills club with a membership of 40 pupils (20 male, 20 female). Our decision to include the school in our Whole School approach program was influenced by the need to change the teachers approach to correcting behavior from a punitive to a corrective approach. The Deputy Head Teacher who has been in the school for over five years states, “The support given to the school has changed the dynamics in terms of teachers’ training that enabled the staff to shift from using punitive forms of punishment to an open communication with children. Life skills training offered to teachers have made them understand that many situations can and should be resolved by enhancing communication with children and talking to them with trust, respect and care. The teachers have developed an understanding that behavior is always an indicator and a result of something hence to correct any case of indiscipline in the school, they learnt the need to start by finding the problem to lead them to the solution”.

Maximilar Helping her Children with Homework