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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