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.

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