How safe are our schools? #SchoolWithoutFear – an initiative to make schools safer for children
ActionAid India and its partners are doing a survey in 275 schools across the country to identify gaps in the implementation process of MHRD guidelines on safety and security of children in schools.
New Delhi, 14th November 2017: ActionAid India and its partners are doing a survey in 275 schools across the country to identify gaps in the implementation process of MHRD guidelines on safety and security of children in schools. #SchoolWithoutFear is an initiative by ActionAid India under the Beti Zindabad! Campaign which strives to make schools safer and advocate for the proper implementation of MHRD guidelines - reduce cases of child sexual abuse and harassment in and around schools; eliminate corporal punishments and discrimination of all kinds and demand for secured, protected, and inclusive learning environment in schools. The initiative seeks to identify gaps in the implementation process and engage concerned authorities to adopt sustainable measures to raise safety standards in schools.
The recent murder of a seven-year old boy inside the school premises has brought the spotlight back to the question – How safe are our schools? In light of this murder, the CBSE has ordered safety and security audit of CBSE schools to be done by the local police, including thorough verification and psychometric evaluation of all non-teaching staff.
We realise that schools in India are in desperate need of impactful reforms and improvement in terms of the safety parameters discussed, including the emotional and psychological aspects of the child. Crime in schools such sexual abuse and harassment, corporal punishment, discrimination along with other factors such as poor infrastructure, lack of separate and functional toilets especially for girls, poor management, unqualified teachers, violence, poor access to services has led to young children dropping out of schools, thereby cutting short their education and more importantly, their aspirations and hopes. It is high time we understand the nature and type of crimes and offences being committed in schools in order to demand for better and improved safety and reporting mechanisms to make schools safer and help fulfil the dreams and hopes of millions of children.
The #SchoolWithoutFear initiative draws its objectives from the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Human Resources Development on safety and security of children in schools that covers various aspects of school education. In that regard, one of the primary intentions of the initiative is to make stakeholders acknowledge the issues of safety in schools, create ownership and accountability amongst themselves and work towards achieving common goals.
The focus is not only in the physical aspects of school safety but also takes into account all forms of abuse such as physical, mental/emotional abuse and even neglect to determine any instances of discriminatory practices in schools.
Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid India said: “To make education accessible to all children, it is very important that schools become child friendly spaces. Safety issues poses a huge barrier to children in schools today. Girls and children from vulnerable communities need to feel secure and know whom to reach out to in case they feel insecure in any way. A drive like #SchoolWithoutFear is necessary to address the safety concerns in schools.”
Sehjo Singh, Director Programme and Policy, ActionAid India says, "ActionAid views schools as the most critical input for ensuring child rights. A good school is the most effective way to keep children from child labour and child marriages. #SchoolWithoutFear is at the heart of our strategy to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty. School is also the best way to create opportunities for the girl child and very important for Beti Zindabad! campaign."
Through the campaign ActionAid would like to help children realise their rights and help them learn how best to assert them. Ultimately it is an #EmpoweredChild who has the best chance of being a #SafeChild
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