Forum for African Women Educationalists - Uganda Chapter

"21 Years of Enhancing Girls' and Women's Education for Development" FAWE Uganda 1997-2018

PROMOTING A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT IN THE RWENZORI SUB REGION

Students from the partner schools in Rwenzori Sub region posing for a group photo at the end of the training in Bundibudyo district

Violence against children remains a major problem affecting enrollment, retention, completion and performance levels in Ugandan schools. The vice is manifested in different forms including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological. 


The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development 2017 Study, on National Efforts to End Violence against Children in Uganda indicates an increasing trend of violence against children, “Girls and Boys experience high rates of sexual violence prior to age 18; 35% female and 17% male, over half of all children experience physical violence before age 18; 68% males and 59% females and emotional violence 34% female and 36%males.” A majority experience violence at home (67% females and 65% males), in the neighborhood 53% for both and school. Sexual violence abuses are majorly perpetrated by friends (34% M and 17F), neighbours (28%F and 23%M), class mates (24% M and 14% F), intimate partners (20%F and 10%M), strangers 20%F and 7%M) followed by family and authority figures. A majority of sexual violence cases 35% occur in respondents home, schools 31%, on the road 21%, perpetrators home 18%, followed by markets/shops and near water bodies. Physical violence takes form of children subjected to caning; doing difficult work – digging, slashing and collecting water in pretext to ‘pushing’ for higher grades; sexual include girls defiled, spoken to in sexual way, receiving marriage proposals, fondled in sexual manner and forced to watch pornography.


The above findings collaborate with the FAWE Uganda Baseline Survey 2016 on Violence against Children in and around Schools in Rwenzori Sub region where, “81% of school children experi¬enced at least one form of violence in schools (77% boys and 66% girls), physical violence mainly perpetrated by male teachers 78%, male pu¬pils 32% and female teachers 23%. 33% male and 34% females reported exposure to sexual violence.”The high violence cases are fuelled by ignorance about children’s rights, high levels of poverty, negative social norms, patriarchy and unequal power relations in society.

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.

Bumadu Secondary School students and their teacher making a work plan for the child rights club.


In an attempt to address the above situation, FAWE Uganda held a two day safety and security training in the three districts of Bundibudyo, Kasese and Ntoroko to empower key stakeholders including Local Government authorities, school administrators and teachers, community members and children, on children’s rights and dangers of violence. The major objective was to equip them with knowledge to prevent; Report, Track, Refer and Respond to cases of violence both in school and community and the urgent need to combat it. The trainings were attended by a total of 150 students, 30 teachers representing 15 secondary and 15 primary level.


The trainings were facilitated by the Ministry of Education and Sports officials, FAWE Uganda Members and staff who took learners through key issues of life skills, adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights education, understanding gender and sexuality, sexual harassment and maturation, self-esteem, assertiveness, copying with stress, effective communication, critical thinking and body confidence in addition to gender concepts such as stereotypes and gender roles and how they contribute to violence against children in the communities. Mr Peter Bamwitirebye, the Bundibudyo District Education Officer urged teachers present return to their duty stations and be change agents by sensitizing other teachers and continue advocating for violence free learning environment. He emphasized that, “It’s unfortunate that people who are tasked to protect children are the same ones who harm them.” He condemned perpetrators of violence and applauded teachers and parents who were doing their part to ensure safety of children in both schools and communities


At the end of the training the learners made a number of commitments to put into practice what they had learnt. Gloria, a student from Bumadu Primary School in Bundibudyo district said, “Before learning effective communication, I would say ‘NO’ to something but my actions would point to yes; but from now going forward I will say ‘No’ when I mean No and Yes when it’s a Yes’. I will not also allow boys to disturb or touch my body anyhow.”

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