2009 Serbia and Montenegro: Evaluation of Program – “School without Violence”
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• Programme “School without Violence: towards a safe and enabling environment for children” aims to prevent and reduce violence occurring within schools. The programme support schools and local communities to create a protective network for children, and provide working and living conditions that promote and nourish non-violence, understanding and respect for others and healthy lifestyles.
• The ultimate goal of the programme is to support development of the enabling and stimulating school environment and safe conditions for children learning and development.
• The specific objectives of the programme are:
o Increasing awareness of existing violence and the need to react on it among interested groups (children, teachers, parents, principal, pedagogue/psychologist, the team for protection of children from violence etc.)
o Development of capacities (knowledge, skills, attitudes, mechanisms) among and for interested groups to prevent violence happening in schools – e.g. attitude of no tolerance to violence, readiness for children to ask for help when violence happens, value of the school rules etc.
o Development of capacities among and for interested groups to react on violence when it happens and intervene in the way that reduces chances for its repetition (timely, according to the SwV recommendations, mobilizing internal/external protection network etc.)
o Development of institutional mechanisms for addressing the issue – changes in the school regulations, establishment of teams, programme, mechanisms for continual implementation as well as monitoring of the status in the school.
o Increasing the motivation to participate and actual participation of all interested groups, particularly children in the development and realisation of prevention and intervention activities that bring positive school change.
o Support creation of the environment where children and teacher are feeling safer and more supported in the school.
o Raise the awareness and attitudes towards violence within local community (increasing social visibility of the phenomena).
• UNICEF Belgrade Office started the School without violence (SwV) programme in 2005.
• The programme is implemented in partnership with key line Ministries, Council for child rights and Institute for advancement in education and development of children. They represent programme steering committee, chaired by the Ministry of education and the MoU is signed with all.
• The programme directly contributes to furthering the child-friendly schools concept (schools fit for children concept) indicated as one of the aims in the National Plan of Action for Children of the Republic of Serbia, approved by the Government of Serbia in February 2004, as well as to the implementation of the General Protocol for Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect and newly developed Special Protocol for Protection of Children from Violence, Abuse and Neglect within Education System (the later being initiated and largely developed based on the SwV programme itself).
• The programme is based on the positive experiences of UNICEF supported activities in Serbia in the last decade as well as other activities in primary schools aimed at promoting rights of the child, culture of peace, non-violence, inter-culturalism, constructive conflict resolution, peer mediation etc. It is also based on the similar Project implemented in Croatia “Stop Violence among Children” although it has been largely modified by the programme technical team.
• The programme, designed to provide direct support to schools, is implemented through support of mentors – specially educated professionals (trained and contracted by UNICEF) who support school in going through 7 steps in programme implementation.
• The programme is implemented through following activities/components:
o application procedure – each school applies for the programme,
o research – survey among all staff and children in the school,
o trainings for staff and teachers – 3 defined areas,
o implementation of prevention workshops with children,
o implementation of animation serial for younger and forum theatre for older children,
o development and application of school rules,
o establishment of internal network and its functioning – roles and responsibilities, restitution and documentation, classroom management,
o establishment of external network and its functioning,
o peer support and peer programmes,
o education and co-operation with parents,
o self assessment – at the end of the implementation – serves as the bases for certification,
o public campaign and fundraising,
o training and coordination of mentors.
• The programme is also of special interest and importance for UNICEF Office in Serbia as it is completely locally fundraised for. It is accompanied by large fundraising and communication campaigns in order to collect enough resources for engaging new schools in the programme as well as to position UNICEF as Agency that will in the future provide mainly technical/professional support and not funds.
• Based on the fundraising results, 137 primary schools have already been involved in the programme, out of which 26 have finalized main programmatic components, and received certificates “Towards School without Violence”. The involvement of schools has been happening in phases (with inclusion of new schools every new school semester). It started with 54 in 2005, additional 22 in the first half of 2006 etc. Although starting in different phases the pace of the programme implementation varies very much among them. It takes minimum 1 year and the half to finalise all planned activities of the programme implementation.
• Institute for psychology from the Philosophical Faculty in Belgrade, organized a research in 54 schools in Serbia as one of the component of School Withоut Violence program. According to the results of the research, violence is dramatically present in schools in Serbia. This research included 32.617 people, 28.931 students and 3.686 adults. 65% students said they were affected by some kind of violent behaviour at lest ones and 24% were affected more than once. Verbal violence (laughing at and calling names) is the most often, but also types of violence such as spreading lays and scaring. Physical violence according to results of this research is on the third place, after verbal and social violence. It is almost impossible to make a difference between children who are acting violently and children who had been affected by peer violence. Older and younger, girls and boys are equally expressing violent behaviour with the difference that girls are more behaving socially and boys physically violent.
• The attention on the presence of the violence in schools has been quite high and numbers of new initiatives have been proposed as effective ways to reduce violence in schools. Therefore it has become necessary to review and assess implementation of the programme and evaluate role, contribution and impact of every component of the programme on the prevention and reduction of violence against children in the school environment and creation of safe and enabling environment.
• Evaluation results and recommendations will be used as guidelines for program improvement and adjustment of project mechanism for UNICEF Belgrade office and project team, Ministry of educations and other key line ministries , as well as additional motivation for school staff, parents, local and wider community- particularly media and donors - to continue efforts for reducing violence amongst and towards children. Lessons learnt will be used for programme design improvement, before the inclusion of other 50 school next year. The evaluation results will help Ministry of education in identifying effective measures for reducing violence in schools thus proposing the programme as a whole or its components to be fully integrated within the system.
• Methodology of programme evaluation is based on human rights approach. Besides that, it is based on referent frame of the programme which is evaluated.
• Evaluation was carried out in 2 phases.
Findings and Conclusions:
When diverse data obtained on basis of quantitative and qualitative survey are taken into account, as well as previously stated considerations and interpretations, it may be concluded that the program is realized relatively successfully, primarily due to the following:
• awareness of violence in schools is raised,
• the problem of violence in schools has become significantly more visible,
• increased sensibility to violence, particularly forms of violence which were not considered violence prior to program implementation (such is social violence),
• intensified preparedness of various individuals involved to identify cases of violence and handle them,
• increased school capacity to get engaged in prevention of violence in schools,
• various aspects of “inner” and “outer” protective network were established at school level, as well as various mechanisms and capacities for strengthening school capacities to efficiently deal with the problem of violence, and finally,
• it came to certain reduction of violence in schools (particularly among younger children)
• On the other hand, the program will be faced with some serious challenges in the upcoming period. Key challenges will be listed here, as well as recommendations which refer to these challenges.
• Institutionalisation of the program, i.e. incorporation of instruments and procedures developed by the program in system solutions, so that the program seizes to be a program, but „grows“ into everyday school functioning. The key factor for success of institutionalization will be quality of cooperation between the Ministry of Education and UNICEF and development of new and present by-laws. The new law creates favourable environment for development of adequate by-laws and mechanisms which would strengthen the role of school in prevention of violence and constructive reaction to violence.
• Broadening of the present program with additional examples of good practice and solutions, particularly for domains where the most serious difficulties during implementation occur (such is application of restitution, for example).
• Providing of additional support and additional time to schools faced with difficulties during implementation of the program „School without violence“ in order to overcome difficulties together and ensure that these schools, as well, achieve visible success. In some schools, emphasis should be placed on forming of togetherness, in others on better comprehension of program core and relevance, then on creating the sense of „ownership“ of the problem of violence in schools, while some schools will need only additional support and solutions in order to advance in program aspects which were implemented less successfully than other aspects were.
• Broadening of the school support network and including educational-pedagogic service and schools which had successful program implementation.
• Intensifying of promotion of the topic „School without violence“ in order to contribute to broadening of social awareness of the problem of violence and of various forms of violence. We should take into account that the currently used way of presenting and reporting about mainly individual cases of violence might have counterproductive effects (creating a sense of helplessness, i.e. that nothing can be done). This is why it is important to intensify „positive campaign“ as counterweight to attention that journalists pay mainly to negative, dramatic cases. The key component of this positive campaign should necessarily be promotion of positive examples, i.e. schools which have succeeded to achieve visible and significant progress in terms of creating safe, enabling and stimulating environment for children in school.
Recommendations for UNICEF:
• In cooperation with the Ministry of Education to work on developing bylaws that would create more favourable system environment, i.e. (a) to make schools accountable for providing effective mechanisms for prevention and constructive response to cases of violence, (b) to provide systematic support instruments to schools, and (c) to provide systematic tools that will allow monitoring of schools in this area.
• In cooperation with the Ministry of Education to work on developing systematic support to schools: (a) mandate and capacity of educational-pedagogic services to match the needs of schools for additional support in the fight against violence in school, and (b) mandate and capacity of educational inspection to be lined with the need to systematically monitor performance of schools in handling violence.
• In cooperation with the Ministry of Education to ensure that the existing indicators for self-evaluation of schools harmonize with the need to monitor the extent to which schools failed to establish adequate mechanisms for prevention of violence and constructive response to violence (in fact, part of indicators should include performance of schools in installing the body and the procedures that have, through realization of the program, proved as effective for prevention and constructive response to violence).
• In cooperation with the Ministry of Education to create continuous campaign, whose main goal should be to promote positive examples of schools that have made considerable progress with the basic message that "education in Serbia can make positive changes when it comes to the problem of violence in schools".
• Together with the Ministry to establish annual reward for the school which has made the most intensive progress over the previous year in terms of prevention of violence and reacting to cases of violence.
• Identify and document examples of good practice from previous program implementation. Examples to be described separately for different aspects of program implementation, with the greatest attention given to examples that illustrate how some schools have managed to be successful in those aspects which proved difficult for successful implementation (e.g., restitution, and inclusion of parents).
• Provide sufficient quantity of communication materials to all schools included in the program (flyers, posters, badges, brochures etc.), which would facilitate schools in promotion of program and its’ values within and out of schools.
• Develop a model for self-evaluation of program realization by schools themselves – develop a set of indicators and instruments for self-evaluation of program realization. This would encourage schools to develop their own analysis and to formulate a plan for further activities that schools would use to respond to the difficulties in program implementation.
• Establish a competition for journalists and reward journalists who wrote in a constructive way during the previous year on individual cases of violence in schools (where the key criterion should be absence of processing topics in a “sensational” manner, i.e. promotion of constructive approach to individual cases of violence and promotion of restitution as a good example)
Recommendations for the Ministry
• On basis of the frame stipulated by the new Law on Basics of Educational System and Upbringing to develop a set of bylaws which would: (a) more clearly define school liability for providing efficient mechanisms of prevention and constructive reacting in individual cases of violence, (b) o provide systematic support instruments to schools, and (c) to provide systematic tools that will allow monitoring of schools in this area.
• Broaden the mandate of educational-pedagogic monitoring to include providing of support in developing adequate mechanisms for prevention of violence and constructive response to violence, as well as to provide structuring of capacities within this service for efficient realization of such mandate.
• Extend the mandate of Educational inspection service for monitoring of the extent to which schools succeeded to establish adequate mechanisms for prevention of violence and constructive response to violence.
• Ensure that the existing indicators for school self-evaluation included indicators that would serve for monitoring of the extent to which schools succeeded to establish adequate mechanisms for prevention of violence and constructive response to violence
• Analyze volume of documentation that schools and teachers are required to create and check whether there is any undue management of documentation and duplication or overlap. On the basis of such analysis to make management of documentation more efficient (reduce to necessary documentation only and through connecting with the unique information system in education to ensure that it relies on ICT). In addition, to ensure that compulsory documentation includes documentation related to violence in school.
• Establish a network of schools which have already succeeded, supported by the program „School without violence“, to provide safe environment for children. The network „School without violence“ would have double role: (a) advisory, i.e. it would have the mandate to advise the Ministry of Education in the domain of handling violence in schools, and (b) it would support schools from the region in cases when school is faced with difficulties handling violence.
• Establish an annual award (which would be given within the St. Sava Academy) for the school which has made the most extensive progress in creating safe environment for children.
• Organize a training for journalists of the leading print and electronic media, in order to reduce “sensationalist” approach to concrete cases of violence and promote constructive models of reacting to violence.
Recommendations for schools
• Organize joint self-evaluation of realization of the program „School without violence“ based on model which would be developed by UNICEF and adopt a plan for development of program components which are assessed as underdeveloped.
• Reconsider the way in which peer team was formed and school rules established, i.e. whether full participation of pupils was ensured during this process; if participation of pupils be assessed as unsatisfactory, consider the possibility to re-form peer team and re-create school rules.
• Peer teams, together with teachers, should organize discussions about restitution (meaning of restitution, why is restitution important, what would adequate restitution be in specific cases etc.)
• On the basis of joint self-evaluation to identify which solutions within the existing regulations are a good support for schools, and which solutions inhibit schools to be more successful in creating safe environment for children and young people and send a letter to the Ministry of Education with suggestions for changes in bylaw regulations.
• On the basis of joint self-evaluation to define the need for additional support of UNICEF in program realization - what do schools expect from UNICEF, i.e. which domains schools would like to receive additional support from UNICEF in.
• Organize presentation of the program for parents in school hall, which would show the course of program implementation and what the school has done to develop a safe environment for pupils. "Day of School without Violence" should be organized within presentation, during which school administration, teachers and pupils would be available to parents to convey their personal experiences, successes and difficulties in program implementation.
Full report in PDF
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