a. Key Considerations for the Education Sector/Cluster
1. Re-shape cultural norms in support of gender equality. Making curricula more gender-sensitive and providing gender training to teachers are entry points for challenging embedded norms about gender and the use of violence. Possible strategies include:
2. Include GBV in life skills training for teachers, girls, and boys in all educational settings (IASC, 2006).
3. Establish prevention and response mechanisms to SEA in educational settings (IASC, 2006).
4. Conduct advocacy. Advocate for national government policies that support free access to primary education as well as clear regulations prohibiting and penalizing violence and exploitation. Advocate that refugee/IDP schools be recognized as official schools, and as such are entitled to the same services and monitoring of safety by government authorities (UNHCR, 2007b).
5. Monitoring and Evaluation. Strengthen the capacity of local and legal authorities to monitor teachers and staff, expand school curriculum, ensure safety measures are in place, and enforce codes of conduct. Support and, when necessary, help establish community structures such as education committees. Involve women and girls in the active monitoring of school safety (UNHCR, 2007b).
Example: A UNHCR/Save the Children UK report (2002) drew attention to the widespread sexual exploitation of girls by male teachers in exchange for good grades or other in-school privileges. To create more protective learning environments for girls, a strategy was introduced to recruit more women teachers to the schools. However, this strategy was difficult to implement in the short term due to the few refugee or local women with the level of schooling, time, family support and resources required to become a teacher. Well-educated women were often recruited for more lucrative positions in the UN, NGOs, or other agencies in the camps. Others were unable to leave family duties, especially single mothers. Therefore, the Classroom Assistant programme was initiated by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Guinea in 2002, and soon afterwards was adopted by IRC Sierra Leone in their education programs for Liberian refugees.
There are flexible entry requirements (Grade 9 education) to become a Classroom Assistant, so the position is open to a larger number of refugee women. Women who are selected participate in a short 2-5 day training workshop, which includes lesson planning, team teaching, tracking girls’ grades, and attendance and report writing. The workshop also covers topics such as child rights, child protection, and the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation, and teaches communication and counseling skills. The assistants are then deployed to Grade 3-6 classes and expected to be in class with students all day, every day. They are visited on a regular basis by IRC supervisors, to whom they submit monthly reports detailing girls’ attendance, activities and home visits.
The Classroom Assistants have an explicit mandate to mitigate abuse and exploitation of students, but more broadly the programme was designed to create more conducive, girl-friendly learning environments and support quality learning for all students. One critical task the assistants perform is the collection and safe-keeping of the class grades from the teachers. This means that the students do not deal directly with the teacher about their grades, which helps to avoid situations in which teachers can manipulate and exploit girls for sex in exchange for altering their grades. Additionally, assistants monitor attendance and conduct home visits to follow up on absences. They help the girls with their studies, support health education activities, and engage in social club activities such as needlework, games and sports.
For many of the Classroom Assistants, the job means an opportunity for them to continue their own education; they are encouraged to attend evening classes to complete their secondary school studies, participate in different teacher trainings and eventually become teachers themselves.
Source: Adapted from INEE Gender Task Team, 2006, “Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence In and Through Education.” Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies)
See the education cluster website.
The Good School Toolkit by Raising Voices in Uganda contains a set of ideas and tools that will help educators explore what a good school is and guide them through a process that will help them create one. It was developed with the help of schools in Uganda and deliberately focuses on ideas and activities that do not require specific financial resources—just commitment and perseverance. The Good School Toolkit has four interrelated objectives that address development of the collective vision, creation of the learning environment, implementation of a more progressive learning methodology and addressing the governance of the school. These are:
For training manuals for students, teachers and on preventing school-related violence against girls, see: USAID. 2009. Doorways Overview, Doorways 1, Doorways 2 and Doorways 3.
For a checklist for ensuring gender-equitable programming in the education sector, see page 54 of the Gender Handbook in Humanitarian Action, Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2006.
For information on structuring Codes of Conduct for Refugee Schools, along with examples, see Annex 1 of “Safe Schools and Learning Environment: How to Prevent and Respond to Violence in Refugee Schools,” by UNHCR, 2007b.
For a Quick Guidance Note on key steps and actions to remember when addressing VAWG in the educational sector, see Annex 3 of “Safe Schools and Learning Environment: How to Prevent and Respond to Violence in Refugee Schools,” by UNHCR, 2007b.
For a toolkit and recommendations from UNHCR on preventing and responding to VAWG in refugee schools, see United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2007b. “Safe Schools and Learning Environment: How to Prevent and Respond to Violence in Refugee Schools.” Geneva: Technical Support Section, Division of Operational Services, UNHCR.