Safer Schools through Sports: A shared responsibility
Ghana Education Service and UNICEF collaborate to host sports festival to address violence in schools in Accra Region
Three friends, Bismark, Elijah and Isaac, hurry off to their bus alongside their teammates. The Dzowulu Special School students have won their football match 2 - 1 against a team of non-disabled students from other schools. These three friends have become stars of the game. They are excited because they have proved everyone wrong. There was no discrimination on this crucial day but fun and competition.
Bismark Osei, 24, who has impaired speech, tips his head twice to the left, simply boasting that he was the best player of the game and preferred to head the ball rather than kick it.
Isaac Okyere, 25, the goalkeeper, chimes in to express his joy. Even though he suffered only one goal, Isaac admits that the game was very competitive, and his team had to work extra hard to win. "Our opponents had outstanding defenders, so we had to strike harder!"
Schools from the Ayawaso Municipality converged in the Kotobabi community for a two-day sports festival. The two day event was designed to highlight the importance of adopting a shared responsibility in education institutions through Ghana's Safer Schools programme, an initiative led by Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service in collaboration with UNICEF. Stakeholders used the two-day event to draw attention to the issues of indiscipline, bullying and hooliganism prevalent in some of the participating schools.
"Unfortunately we see bad attitudes we see every day in our municipalities," the Municipal Director of Education for Ayawaso Central, Augustus Owusu Agyemfra told UNICEF. "Today's event will go a long way to changing our learners' mindset and attitudes and reduce instances where community members attack teachers in schools. We encourage our teachers to use positive discipline to support students instead of corporal punishment. I am happy today because I think the message has been well received.
“Indeed, we were pretty disappointed with the bad weather this morning, and we almost called off the float event. The students were poised and would not take no for an answer. It was a pleasant experience going through the mild showers with community members coming to see us walk and spreading our message on safe schools. The students' determination says so much, and we should never forget we can achieve anything if we put our minds to it. Nothing can stop us!"
The Safe Schools initiative aims to eliminate all forms of violence in schools, so that all girls and boys in Ghana can access and complete quality, safe and inclusive basic education with improved learning outcomes.
Achievements of Safe Schools Programme
The initiative - which UNICEF is able to provide technical and financial assistance through the support of partners including Barca FC Foundation and other partners - has achieved many successes in the last four years.
Through the Safe Schools Programme,
- more teachers and by extension, learners have been made aware of the impact of violence in a school setting and more schools have been sensitized to become a safer, more inclusive, gender-friendly and violence-free learning environment.
- sport has been promoted as an inclusive medium
- more community members have participated in school management and governance to support and monitor safe schools.
- the programme been applied across 52 schools, including within schools for those with special needs.