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In Uganda, the National “Zero Violence in Schools” Campaign is launched at the National Day of Prayer and Action for Children

© UNICEF Uganda/Atef

By Proscovia N. Mbonye and Tom Waite

KAMPALA, Uganda, 17 November, 2012 -
This year, the Government of Uganda in partnership with UNICEF and partners came together to officially launch the national “Zero Violence in Schools” campaign during the second National Day of Prayer and Action for Children. The day was set aside for people of all religious backgrounds to rededicate themselves to promoting child rights through prayer.

Organised by the Uganda Parliamentary Fellowship, the occasion brought together over 300 children, Parliamentarians, Donors, Ambassadors, as well as key child rights stakeholders. The children put across their messages through various performances at the event reminding all stakeholders to create a safer future for children.

“If I begun mentioning what happens at schools, you can’t go without crying”, Restetuta Nabulya, a 9 year old girl from Stella Maris Nsuube Primary School and the President of the Youth Alive club of the same school narrated as she read her speech, receiving a thunderous applause and standing ovation from the audience.

She urged all present to give children a chance to develop to their potential, by making schools places where violence and abuse are not tolerated. “Stop saying that we are the leaders of tomorrow. I think our tomorrow has come,” she mentioned.

The Right Hon. Chief Justice, Benjamin Joseph Odoki, the Chief Guest at the event reiterated that all forms of violence against children should not be tolerated as they pose long term consequences on children and are an infringement on the their rights. He cited a number of existing legal provisions in Uganda which prohibit violence against children in schools and called on all Members of Parliament present to hasten the amendment of the Children Act which when passed, will outlaw corporal punishment.

“It is our humble appeal that the process of amending the Children Act be expedited, to ensure that perpetrators of violence against children in schools can effectively be brought to Justice,” Chief Justice Odoki said.

Present at the function too, was the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Jessica Alupo who said corporal punishment is one of the main reasons for the ever increasing school dropout rates. She urged schools to promote and use positive alternatives to punishment such as mentoring, guidance and counselling which enable children to learn better.

Children thanked the organisers of the event for allowing them to participate. “Let the celebrations of today usher us into a safer Uganda. We expect more safety for children. Let us have all children alive and educated,” Restetuta concluded.

© UNICEF Uganda/Atef



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