’Zero Violence in Schools’ campaign launched to protect Ugandan pupils from abuse, promote mentoring, positive guidance and not punishment
KAMPALA, Monday, September 17, 2012 – A national “Zero Violence in Schools” campaign was today launched by the Government of Uganda in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other child rights stakeholders, to mark the start of concerted efforts to protect children in Uganda from violence, exploitation and abuse.
The “Zero Violence in Schools” campaign addresses the various forms of violence perpetrated against children in schools including caning, verbal, sexual and emotional abuse, or any physical violence that pupils may experience. It advocates a culture of Zero tolerance to violence against children in schools and, instead, promotes positive alternatives to punishment - such as mentoring, guidance and counseling - which encourage pupils to learn better rather than when subjected to pain.
The campaign aims to create a safe environment in which children in Uganda will learn, play, thrive and develop into productive, self-driven adults, and to ensure that their right to a peaceful, secure and enabling environment is not trampled upon by teachers, fellow students or other people they trust.
The launch was conducted during the second National Day of Prayer and Action for Children, organised by the Uganda Parliamentary Fellowship at Hotel Africana. Chief Justice Benjamin Joseph Odoki presided at the occasion, attended by over 300 school children selected from a group of nearly 2,000 representing all districts at the National Primary School Music, Dance and Drama Festival in Kampala this week. Also present were legislative, judicial, civic, religious and other leaders and child rights stakeholders in the country. The landmark event marked part of the overall calendar of activities to celebrate 50 years of Uganda’s independence.
UNICEF’s Chief of Western and Central Regions in Uganda, Mrs. Grace Ekudu-Adoku, who addressed the event, said it was important to address the harsh reality that violence in schools was still prevalent in Uganda, with devastating consequences.
“Caning is so common it has become almost invisible,” said Ekudu, adding that “Violence in schools defeats the purpose of education: it forces children to drop out, to perform badly, to fail”.
Ekudu noted that publicly addressing violence in schools was critical to breaking the cycle of violence, since violence tended to breed more violence, with abused children often becoming perpetrators of violence themselves in an endless cycle of violence.
She noted that schools were meant to be safe spaces for children, and appealed to all leaders, parents, teachers and members of the community to handle all acts of violence against children in and out of schools in accordance with the relevant laws – and hold the perpetrators accountable.
“UNICEF is committed to partnering with the Government of Uganda and other child rights stakeholders to promote Zero violence in schools. Children – like all people – respond better to positive actions like guidance instead of punishment. They will learn better if they’re safe, and not in pain. Mentoring beats beating. Counseling and mentoring children will always be more effective than violence, and will have a positive effect on a child’s future, helping build confidence and motivation. Together we can build a world where children’s safety and well-being are assured and where they can grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity,” she said.
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UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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