End school violence to increase completion

OPINION | EDUCATION

End violence in and around schools to increase retention and completion

By David Omoding

Today, June 16, Uganda will join the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of the African Child.

This year’s National Celebrations will take place at Iganga district under the theme: “Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunities for Children in Uganda by 2030.”

The day is celebrated annually since 1991, when it was initiated by the Organisation of African Unity now African Union. It aims at raising awareness about the continued need for improved education among African children. It honors hundreds of young students murdered in the Soweto uprising in 1976, protesting the poor quality education.

In Uganda, it is commemorated to reflect on the progress achieved in addressing challenges children face in and around schools including high teacher absenteeism and student dropout rate, poor hygiene and sanitation coupled with lack of menstrual towels for girls; physical, psychological, emotional and sexual violence inflicted on learners by school administrators, teachers and community members; child marriage, teenage pregnancies and child labour.

As we celebrate, Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda Chapter (FAWEU) calls upon Government and policy makers through the line Ministry of Education and Sports to urgently address all forms of violence matted against children.

It is every child’s right to enjoy a violence-free environment.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) outlines all children have right to good quality education that respects their human dignity and pro­motes their development.

Uganda Constitution (1995) Articles 24 and 44, protects dignity and safety of every Ugandan in­cluding children. However, violence against children remains a pervasive challenge in Uganda; it undermines their security and safety as well as inflicts pain and fear affecting educational attainment; health and well-being of girls and boys. It’s associated with several psychological and emotional negative effects and affects the child’s self-esteem to take advantage of existing opportunities.

In some cases it has resulted into serious physical injuries - permanent disabilities and mental damage.

According to the UNICEF 2014 Study on Violence against Children in Schools, “77.7% children faced Sexual violence in primary schools and 82% secondary, 74.3% violently abused-75.6% in Government schools compared to 73% private, 82% children subjected to caning; doing difficult work – digging, slashing and collecting water in pretext to ‘pushing’ them to attain higher grades.”

The Study adds, “8% girls are defiled, 24% spoken to in sexual way, 18% receive marriage proposals, 25% fondled in sexual manner and 29% made to watch pornography.”

FAWEU Baseline Survey 2016 on Violence against Children in and around Schools reports, “81% of school children experi­enced at least one form of violence in schools (77% boys and 66% girls), physical violence mainly perpetrated by male teachers 78%, male pu­pils 32% and female teachers 23%. 33% male and 34% female reported exposure to sexual violence.

Sexual abuse happens in toilets, classrooms, staffrooms, on the way to/from school and in teachers’ houses. Perpe­trators of sexual abuse are mainly male students 61%.”

In this regard, FAWEU calls upon Government/Policy Makers, School Administrators and Local Council Authorities and Community Members to exhaustively explore means into preventing and eliminating acts of violence in and around schools i.e. strengthen the capacity of duty bearers, rights hold­ers to enforce guidelines on Reporting, Tracking, Referral and Response (RTRR) Guidelines on VACis, build capacity of educational staff, parents and children on child protection, ensure codes of conduct are adhered to, strengthening institutional collaboration among schools, police and other justice dispensing agencies and activate a coherent referral system among different child protection actors to ensure that children exposed to abuse receive comprehensive support services.

The writer is the communications and advocacy officer of the Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda Chapter - See more at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1455693/school-violence-increase-retention-completion#sthash.fT0B7It5.dpuf

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA TO PROMOTE, PROTECT GIRLS RIGHTS AND END ABUSE

On 31st March 2017, Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda Chapter (FAWEU) through Girls Advocacy and Empowerment Project held a one hour Radio Talk Show at Rock Mambo 106.8 FM with the main objective of creating awareness about the challenges girls face including; violation of girl’s rights, the high rates of abuses they face and what needs to be done by various stakeholders including; the District authorities/Government, the Uganda police and community leaders to avert the situation in Tororo district. It also aimed at sensitizing community members on the concept of Child Protection, ending Child abuse and build the capacity of Girls Rights Clubs (GRCs) to know and exercise their rights, build their confidence to speak out on issues of girl rights abuse, sexual and gender based violence and referring cases of abuse to relevant authorities including the concerned district structures - Uganda police, local leaders and community members.

The Radio talk show featured representatives from the Tororo District officials including, the Gender Officer, Police Spokesperson (PRO) in charge of Eastern Region, FAWEU Project Officer and four members of the Girl’s Right Clubs (GRCs) from the four project sub-counties of Osukuru, Merikit, Kisoko and Rubongi. During the talk show, they pointed out the different and common abuses girls in the district face namely; early child marriages, teenage pregnancy, rape and defilement, violent abuse – sexual, physical, emotional and psychological in addition to child labour and exploitation.

Mrs. Amoit Lydia, Tororo District Gender Officer said that, “In an effort to end abuse and violence against the girl child, the district is passing two new ordinances on Education and ending sexual violence against teenage girls. They are currently at Ministerial level where by any person involved in negotiation of cases of Child/Girls abuse will face the full brunt of the law.” She also called upon parents and care takers to be responsible and provide basic needs for their children, end discrimination and failure to do so tantamount to violation of their rights. She noted that, “In most families boys are not allowed to do house hold work such as cooking and everything is left to the girls resulting to less time given to them to concentrate on their studies, interaction and social development.”

The Uganda Police Force (UPF) Spokesperson In-charge of Eastern – Bukedi Region, ASP. Kamulya Sowali cautioned members of the Uganda police to protect their integrity and adhere to professionalism while handling cases of child rights abuse. He warned that, “Any police officer found asking for money or bribery to facilitate cases of child abuse is doing so as individual and not as the institution of the police force; and he/she should be reported immediately for action to be taken against them.” He added that, “The Uganda constitution protects all children including girls from abuse and exploitation and those below twelve (12) years of age or underage girls have no capacity or right to claim that they love the man/boy who has sexually abused them. He urged all State actors to handle such cases on behalf of the underage girls or those below 12 years”. The Radio talk show held targeted district officials for policy influencing at the lower level; Community members, Parents, Local Leaders and Students in Tororo and neighboring districts to enable them take action and combat child abuse.

FAWEU PARTICIPATES IN THE GLOBAL MENTORING WALK 2017

Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda (FAWEU) on Saturday 11th March, 2017 participated in a Vital Voices Global mentoring walk to commemorate the International Women’s Day. The walk that took place in Uganda was part of the 134 different walks happening in over 60 nations worldwide.

The Mentoring Walk was flagged off at 8:00am, from Centenary Park in Kampala, by the Prime Minister - Katikiro of Buganda Kingdom, Owek. Charles Peter Mayiga and it was attended by numerous stakeholders including; students from various girls’ schools (Kitante Primary School), female managers from Corporate Companies (Centenary Bank), renowned women from both public and Private Institutions such as Members of Parliament, Non-Government Organizations,  Women based Organizations and Women entrepreneurs.

The Chief Guest the Prime Minister – Katikiro of Buganda Kingdom Owek. Charles Peter Mayiga, in his speech emphasized that, “The community should stop being silent, they should focus and talk about cultural norms that undermine women.” He further called upon men to support struggles or initiatives run by women.

The walk that started at Centenary Park ended at Kitante Primary School where other activities to commemorate the day were held including speeches from notable women such as; Hajjat Rehema Kasule, the President and Founder of CEDA International and Hon. Judith Babirye the Woman Member of Parliament for Buikwe District; music dance and drama activities, Poems, free voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS and successful women entrepreneurs also shared their success stories to motivate other women and students present. The event also created an opportunity for other organizations to show case their products and services to participants.

FAWEU marks 20 Years in existence

“Enabling positive change for girls’ Education” is the noble duty of Forum For African Women Educationalists Uganda (FAWEU), as enshrined in our vision of a country in which all girls and women have access to equitable quality education, that enables them to effectively participate in development at all levels and our mission to promote gender equity and equality in education in Uganda, by influencing policies and nurturing positive practices and attitudes towards girls’ education.

The year 2017 brings FAWEU to twenty (20) years of stretching out hands of succor and guidance to the needy girl-child in Uganda. Over the years, since our inception in 1997, we have seen our interventions impacting thousands of girls, boys and young women and men through education. We are very proud of having made this noble contribution to Education in Uganda and thank the Government, Development and other partners and all friends and well-wishers, without whose support and good will, we would never have managed.

Looking ahead, we note that an educated girl and woman are empowered and hold the key to kick-start all inclusive economic growth of Uganda, and are very key, if Uganda is to attain a middle income status by 2020. This view is evident as well at continental and global level, as evidenced by the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016-2025) which emphasizes the need to accelerate processes leading to gender parity and equity and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 and 5, which lay emphasis on education for all and gender equity and equality.
I therefore congratulate FAWEU founders (1997) for their foresight; the governance and management over the twenty (20) years, for a job well done.
Wishing you the best of returns in 2017.

Left FAWEU Communications and Advocacy Officer Juliet Kimotho receiving FAWEU’s advanced QUAM certificate from QUAM National Council officials

FAWEU Awarded National NGO Quality Assurance Certificate (QuAM)

On 23rd of June 2016, FAWEU was awarded the prestigious Quality Assurance Advanced Certificate, an accolade associated with good governance and proficiency in delivery of services among Non-governmental Organizations in Uganda. This was after top officials from NGO Quality Assurance Mechanism (QuAM) Council led by Dr.WinnieTarinyebwa, the Vice-Chairperson of the National QuAM Council carried out a successful vetting process on the 17th of May 2016 at the organization’s Office in Bukoto. 

The process involved examination of the organization’s guiding documents, policies, regulations and procedures and their applicability to the actual institutional practice. Furthermore, applying for the QuAM certification process is a sign of openness and transparency of the management and affairs of FAWE Uganda.

The NGO Quality Assurance Mechanism (QuAM) is a self-assessment initiative developed by NGOs and for NGOs. It aims to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of NGOs and contribute to the overall improvement in the public legitimacy of the sector.

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