Stakeholders in Uganda’s education sector will meet to deliberate on the innovative approaches for the prevention of violence against children and establish concrete benchmarks for building safe learning environments, at a forthcoming forum slated for September 19.
The two-day National Symposium on Creating Safe and Positive Learning Environment will take place between September 19 and 20 at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala. This was revealed Monday by the State Minister for Primary Education, Rosemary Nansubuga Sseninde at a news conference in Kampala.
“The primary objective of the learning symposium is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to gather knowledge and understand the innovative approaches for the prevention of violence against children and establish concrete benchmarks for building safe learning environments,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement.
The symposium seeks to share evidence based practices for creating safe learning environments as well as discuss challenges in creating safe learning environments and how to modify current approaches in order to overcome challenges.
Minister Sseninde said the symposium will stimulate discussion about the INSPIRE strategy and agree on the key priorities for operationalizing the strategy in prevention of violence against children in schools.
INSPIRE is a global framework for ending violence against children, highlighting seven evidence-based strategies for ending violence against children.
With funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) and in partnership with the government of Uganda, World Vision is implementing its INSPIRE framework in 25 schools in the Mityana district.
The primary focus of these strategies is on the prevention of violence. It was developed by the WHO in collaboration with many key U.S. Government agencies and NGO’s. Uganda is one of the first national governments globally to adopt the INSPIRE framework.
The forthcoming symposium will bring together officials from the Ministry of Education, sector development partners delegates from line Ministries (Gender, Labour and Social Development, Health, Justice, Water and Environment), civil society actors, officials from district local governments, religious and cultural leaders and head teachers.
Other participants will be Senior Women teachers, adolescent girls and boys and the media.
The main output of the symposium will be a call to action on creation of safe learning environments by the Education sector to be considered as key priorities in the review of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (2020-2025) as well as the on-going review of the Government White Paper on Education.
Minister Sseninde will officiate at the symposium as chief guest.
She highlighted some of the successes registered so far in eliminating violence in schools, among them: positive legal and policy environment that is supportive to the protection of children’s rights including elimination of different forms of violence against children.
The framework includes the Education Act (2008), Gender in Education policy (2016), Teacher Policy (2018), the Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards (2010), the National Strategy on Elimination of Violence against Children (2015-2020), National Strategy for Girls’ Education (2014-2019), the UPE and USE guidelines, the Circular on ending all forms of VAC to all schools and education institutions and the Reporting Tracking Referral and Response guidelines.
In addition the Ministry of Education issued circulars banning corporal punishment (2006) and banned all forms of violence against children in schools (2015).
Nonetheless, challenges remain, particularly violence against girls due societal acceptance of sexual violence.
The Ministry adds that collapse of traditional social networks or systems has undermined the moral values and standards as well as the family supports that provided basis for collective responsibility in ensuring the growth, safety and security in children.
Other challenges include immoral behavior and practices such violence in families and communities often manifests itself in the school setting too as children learn violent behaviors.