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.”

95 HEAD TEACHERS AND TEACHERS IN THE RWENZORI SUB REGION TRAINED ON GENDER RESPONSIVE TEACHING APPROACHES

On 30th January - 2nd February, 2018 FAWE Uganda held a four day Gender Responsive Pedagogy training for 95 head teachers and teachers from the 30 schools covering the three districts of Kasese, Bundibudyo and Ntoroko, the Rwenzori sub region. The training equipped head teachers and teachers with skills and knowledge on the four pillars of gender responsive pedagogy including; lesson planning, teaching methodologies, learning materials and language used in schools.

To ensure active engagement and participation of members, the training was steered in form of holding group work discussions, plenary sessions, gallery walks, experience sharing and storytelling. As a result, participants opened-up and confessed to having witnessed or sometimes unknowingly orchestrated gender discrimination or violence in schools through their actions including; nicknaming students, using abusive language, discriminating learners, indecent dressing among teachers and corporal punishment without knowing that such acts expose learners to emotional violence and as result affect performance.

During the sessions, it was evident that, a high percentage of teachers do not have knowledge on the legal and policy framework that guide their profession and children wellbeing i.e. the Education Act and the Children Amendment Act 2016. A majority of schools were also not child friendly as the environment does not allow both male and female students to be comfortable and excel in their studies. This was reinforced by the lack of changing rooms for girls and adequate water points which inconvenience and stresses them during the menstrual cycle. School administrators were also seen to be a big obstacle to the realization of the gender responsive school.

One of the participants was quoted saying, “We need to integrate the knowledge we have acquired here today into the school systems, though its most likely to face resistance from the school administrators who are rigid and conservative hence making it very hard to realize a gender responsive environment in schools.”

Ms. Lynn Nakabugo, the Program Officer, Violence against Children at FAWE Uganda expressed that, “We need to put more effort to achieve gender responsive learning environment in schools. This involves rallying the school management committees like the Parents and Teachers Association, School Administrators, all teachers and support staff and community members to appreciate the components of gender responsive pedagogy, apply it to make learning environment child friendly to enable both girls and boys flourish and improve on their performance.”

At the closure, participants made commitments and developed action plans on how to transform their schools and make them gender responsive. The training took place at Fort View Resort Hotel, in Fort portal district.

ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN NTOROKO DISTRICT

On February 14th, 2018 FAWE Uganda in partnership with Ntoroko district held a community dialogue in Kanara Town Council to create awareness on the plight of violence against Children in and around schools. The deliberations highlighted the emerging trends in violence against children including factors fuelling it - negative cultural norms, poverty, weak enforcement of existing laws and its overall impact on learners.

Mr. Opila Charles, the Ntoroko District Police Commander responding to issues raised by the stakeholders on what the Police is doing in relation to combating all forms of violence against children in Kanara T/C Ntoroko district.

During the dialogue, children from partner schools used music, dance and drama to bring out the different issues affecting them in and around schools. Sexual violence ranked high, especially early child marriages, teenage pregnancy, defilement and rape; child labour - engaging in fishing along the shores of Lake. Albert and working in markets; drug abuse, starvation both in school (no lunch) and home due to shortage of food; corporal punishment and abusive language used by teachers and parents both in school and home respectively. Stakeholders present were also sensitized on their core roles and responsibilities on prevention and ending violence against children, in addition to existing legal frameworks to help facilitate their work. The issues raised by the children steered debate among the stakeholders as they had to give answers on what they are doing to combat violence against children.

Mr. Opila Charles, the Ntoroko District Police Commander said, “As the Uganda Police Force, our role is to keep law and order; we are committed to doing our part and end all forms of abuse against children. However, police alone cannot achieve a lot. I call upon all stakeholders; parents, local leaders and community members to cooperate and join hands in ending this vice. For instance, on fighting child marriage, there is a challenge of connivance among parents to negotiate with perpetrators instead of being responsible and protect their children by reporting cases and bringing the abusers to book.” He further blamed the negative cultural believes as being one of the key factors fuelling violence against children, “Parents look at their children especially the girl child as a source of wealth – so they want to marry them early so they can benefit.”

The Town Clerk of Kanara Town Council expressed that, “Last year, Ntoroko district passed a bylaw on ending child marriages however, the issue keeps coming-up because of uncooperative parents and the public who look on when the children are being married off. As a result, we are going to arrest and charge parents who are found of procuring this act. They need to be responsible enough and ensure that their children are in school, provide lunch – scholastic materials for them and stop looking at the girl child as a solution to their problems.” He encouraged the children to report to their head teachers, teachers, local leaders and the police incase their parents want to marry them off. Local leaders too need to enforce the bylaw, document all the parents whose children are not in school so that they can be prosecuted.

The dialogue meeting was attended by over 150 people including; the Ntoroko district leaders – District Education Officer, Town Clerk, the Speaker, Representative of the Resident District Commissioners Office and Chief Administrative Officer, District Police Commander, youth councilors, Office of the district chairperson, district probation, office, members of the Uganda Police Force , religious and cultural leaders, local leaders and community members.

Kanara town council registers the highest number of violence cases against children and this is attributed to the nature of area i.e. an highland, a landing site, bordering Uganda and Congo with over 40 tribes different tribes from various parts of the country and beyond.

Left; Mr. George Mayinja, the Kasese District Education Officer, FAWE Uganda Field Officer Kasese district Mr. Richard Kihlambuli, Father Obaldo Ssumba the religious leader and Mr. Kitanywa Sowedi Kasese district Probation Officer creating awareness on VACiS during the talk show.

HOLDING RADIO TALK SHOWS TO CREATE AWARENESS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN THE RWENZORI SUB REGION

On 5th and 9th May, 2017 Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda Chapter (FAWEU) through the Violence against Children in and around School Project (VACiS) held radio talk shows at both Development FM in Bundibugyo and Radio Guide in Kasese District. The radio talk shows aimed at discussing the situation of violence against children in and around schools, different forms of violence and what needs to be done to address the heart wrenching prevailing statistics in the Rwenzori region and Uganda as a whole. The talk shows also aimed at creating awareness in the region on the rights of children and the role of duty bearers in ensuring that these rights are observed and their mandate in guaranteeing safety for the children especially the girl child.

It also featured equipping the leaders and the local populace with the existing laws and legal regimes governing protection of children and popularizing the Ministry of Education and Sports Reporting, Tracking, Responding and Referral (RTRR) guidelines on Violence against Children in and around Schools (VACiS.)

Mr. George Mayinja, the Kasese District Education Officer said that, “As we continue to supervise teachers and monitor their performance; the few cases that are reported have been handled extremely well with offenders facing the full wrath of the law. As a result, teachers have improved on this with no cases heard off on imprisonment of any teacher now because of corporal punishment.” He appreciated FAWE Uganda for taking lead in building the capacity of teachers and leaders as they help cascade information to lower levels and act as role models/change agents to others.

Mr. Kitanywa Sowedi, the Kasese District Probation Officer responded to the question on Reporting, Tracking, Responding and Referral (RTRR) guidelines. He emphasized that, “We shall continue working together as one and report all cases of violence against children to the appropriate authorities including the Uganda Police Force and other structures in the community.” He also urged community members to seek support from the appropriate authorities whenever they need assistance or incase of any offence is reported.

Mr. Bamwitirebye Peter, the Bundibugyo District Education Officer (DEO) expressed that, “The number of cases reported on Violence against Children in and around schools have tremendously reduced in the community because of the awareness and sensitization campaigns that are being implemented both at school and the communities.” He warned teachers against violating children’s rights in schools “The education department in the district has frequently sent letters to schools reminding them of their professional code of conduct.” The DEO also warned parents to desist from quietly receiving dowry from the culprits impregnating underage girls. The District leaders from both Kasese and Bundibugyo acknowledged FAWEU’s contribution towards positive change both in schools and communities. They appreciated the opportunities and platforms such as the radio talkshows that bring stakeholders together to discuss pertinent issues affecting children in the community.

They implored FAWE Uganda to continue working to attain quality education for the girl child. Both talk shows were attended by District officials from the two districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo including; the District Education Officer, Probation Officer and Religious and cultural leaders.

The VACiS Project Coordinator from FAWE Uganda conducting the Training in Kabarole district. The training brought together district, subcounty and Cultural Leaders from the three districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko.

BUILDING THE CAPACITY OF LEADERS IN THE RWENZORI REGION ON CHILD RIGHTS AND THEIR ROLE IN PROTECTING CHILDREN

On May 24th – 25th, 2017 Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda (FAWE Uganda) trained 93 district leaders from the Rwenzori sub region (Kasese, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts) on child rights and their role in protecting children. The leaders were equipped on the tactics and strategies they can use to advocate and campaign against all forms of Violence against Children in and around Schools (VACiS) including child marriage, teenage pregnancies, defilement and rape, and physical, psychological and emotional violence.

The two day training focused on improving the understanding of district and local leaders (LC5 Chairpersons, Chief Administrative Officers, Resident District Commissioners, District Police Commanders, District Education Officers and Inspectors, Gender and Probation Officers, Head Teachers, Sub county Chiefs, LCs, Religious and Cultural Leaders and members of the public on child protection; deliberating on the overview and factors fuelling high rates of VACiS in the Rwenzori Sub Region and Uganda as a whole. During the cause of training, stakeholders had the opportunity to reflect on their roles and responsibilities in addressing factors fuelling violence against children.

Ms. Lynn Nakabugo, the VACiS Project Coordinator at FAWE Uganda said that, “Violence against Children in and around Schools (VACiS) continues to be a major barrier to children’s meaningful participation in education; with enormous effects matted on the girl child. The vice has kept increasing despite the existing laws/policies, existence of enforcement agencies like the Uganda Police, guidelines from the Ministry of Education for teachers and the professional standards in the schools and awareness in the communities.” She adds that, “To address these vices especially sexual violence against the girl child, we need the concerned agencies - the district authorities and law enforcement agencies to reign on perpetrators and bring them to book.” She also called for a concerted effort, cooperation and coordination from all stakeholders including local council leaders, religious and cultural leaders and members of the community (parents) to be able to report cases and follow them-up to logical conclusion.”

Stakeholders from the Rwenzori region posing for a group photo after the Child Rights training at Kabarole district

Mr. Mugisha Henry, the Senior Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) expressed that, “Cases of sexual harassment are high in Uganda compared to neighboring countries like Tanzania and Kenya These Violence cases against children have consistently gone high over time.” According to the (MOES) recent Study, “Corporal punishment stands at 74% in Government schools and 75.6% in private schools, Canning 73%, Child labour 82%, bullying 46% in primary schools and 31% in secondary schools, emotional abuse 46.7%, Sexual harassment 82% in secondary schools, Defilement 8%, Marriage proposals 18%, spoken to sexually 24% and watching pornographic material is at 29%.”

He added that, “To address the violence problem in and around schools; stakeholders need to effectively follow the Reporting, Tracking, Response Referral (RTRR) guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education and also use the school community as the first point of response to violence against children.” Teachers also need to change their perception and attitude against VACiS. They should be transparent in their efforts to eliminate VACiS.”

He also called for active participation, involvement and consultation of children in the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence and also establish children friendly school environment.
At the end of the training stakeholders committed themselves to addressing all forms of violence in and around schools. They resolved to continue creating awareness against it, reporting cases and effectively following them up to their logical conclusion; addressing the corruption in the police force, underground connivance and negotiation between parents and perpetrators to kill cases and unscrupulous act by parents to forge birth certificates purporting that the victims are above 18 years.

BUILDING THE CAPACITY OF HEAD TEACHERS ON GENDER RESPONSIVE PEDAGOGY METHODOLOGIES OF EFFECTIVE LEARNING AND TEACHING IN KABAROLE DISTRICT

Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda on 27th to 28th April, 2017 conducted training on Gender Responsive Pedagogy in relation to Violence against Children in and around School for 30 Head Teachers (4 female and 26 male) and 60 Teachers (32 female and 29 male) at Fort View Resort Hotel, Fort Portal Municipality.

The training aimed at empowering Teachers and Head Teachers on how to apply Gender Responsive Methodologies to effective learning and teaching; and it is expected to scale-up gender responsive methodologies in their teaching and learning environment so as to ensure realization of a gender responsive school.

While addressing participants at the training, Ms. Rosette Nanyanzi, the Research and Advocacy Officer, Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) - Gender Unit shared harrowing statistics on Violence against Children in Uganda. She said, according to the MOES and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2012 study on the prevalence of Violence Against Children in Schools (VACiS), “77% and 82% of Primary and Secondary school students had respectively experienced sexual violence while 59% of children were subjected to defilement. Similarly 70% and 57% of primary and secondary school students respectively had experienced corporal punishment despite the government declaring a ban on the activity across Ugandan schools in 2010.”

She informed members that all the National and International legal frame work condemn  VACiS such as the Uganda Constitution (1995), children Act Cap 59 (2008), Education Act (2008), Maputo Protocol (2003) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). She further took participants through the reporting mechanisms for VACiS including; how to Report cases, Tracking, Response, and Referral (RTRR) guidelines modalities and urged them to vigilantly take responsibility for their actions as well as account for their mandate.

Mrs. Sarah Murungi, FAWEU Project Officer emphasized the fundamentals of gender responsive lesson planning, gender stereotypes in teaching and learning processes and how these affect the learner. She took participants through key issues to consider in making learning conducive such as: teaching and learning materials used, the methodologies, scheduled learning activities, classroom setup and interaction. She cautioned that “The teaching methods used ought to ensure equal participation of both boys and girls and if the school is mixed all learners should participate equitably and it should be for all learners (both brilliant and slow) during teaching sessions.” She also encouraged teachers to utilize different methods of teaching in classes including; group discussion, role play, debates, case studies and explorations.

At the end of training, participants learnt numerous Gender Responsive Pedagogy concepts ranging from gender aware, blind and responsive,  and discussed the importance of transforming schools from ordinary to gender responsive in all aspects including; the physical, academic and social environment; having gender responsive physical facilities and systems, gender responsive teachers to drastically reduce barriers girls face, have safe and conducive school environments for girls to learn and complete their education cycle as this will facilitate empowerment and build confidence of learners.

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