Safer, Inclusive Schools Critical for Children's Learning: Coalition for Good Schools

Safer, Inclusive Schools Critical for Children's Learning: Coalition for Good Schools

Sep 25, 2023

New Delhi [India], September 25: The Asia Regional Hub for Coalition for Good Schools, today released the findings from its report titled 'Creating Good Schools: Preventing School Based Violence against Children in Southern Asia.' Coalition for Good Schools is a global network committed to advancing the prevention of Violence against Children in and through schools (VACiS). The Coalition has member countries across the globe, including India.
The report covers trends from ten South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. While these countries have diverse cultural and socio-economic landscapes, the common factor among them is the growing incidence of School-based Violence against Children. The Coalition assumes greater significance as it aims to bring together leaders and organizations to address the critical issue of Violence against Children (VAC) and create safer schools for a comprehensive learning experience.
The report also highlights the often-overlooked dimensions of violence such as sexual abuse, cyberbullying, and virtual exploitation, in addition to physical violence. The recent surge in online learning due to COVID-19 lockdowns has further exposed children to new forms of violence, demanding swift action to safeguard their digital spaces. As teaching and learning spaces are transitioning between physical and virtual spaces, it is important to recognize and include online violence in violence prevention programmes.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Sohini Bhattacharya, one of the founding members of the Coalition for Good Schools, said:
"The Coalition for Good Schools is committed to addressing the issue of School-based Violence against Children, to create safer schools. The findings from our report underscore the urgent need for holistic, context-sensitive approaches to prevent violence against children. Safe and inclusive schools will create better learning environments for children.
We believe that addressing the issue of Violence against Children requires taking collective action to develop country-specific solutions. We are confident that collaborative efforts will greatly contribute to creating safer school environments for our children."
Globally, violence against children (VAC) is estimated to affect up to 1 billion children between the ages of 2 to 17 years, with significant health, social and psychological consequences, and significant social costs. The omnipresence of smartphones and the internet has catalyzed a surge in cyberbullying. The report reveals that nearly 80% of individuals, especially young adolescents, have fallen victim to various forms of cyberbullying in the South Asia region.
Therefore, schools are a critical site for engaging multiple stakeholders and preventing violence occurring both within and outside schools, with the potential of large and sustained effects. Experiences of violence have an immediate physical dimension in the form of injury and can lead to disability or death during childhood. Violence against children also bears significant social costs, such as impaired learning and violent and anti-social behaviours, which affect educational and behavioral outcomes.
Recommendations to address Violence against Children in Schools
The Coalition for Good School's emphasizes the need for child-centric and gender-sensitive program designs, integrated whole-school interventions, and advocacy efforts to create safer schools for children across the South Asia region. The report lists down the following measures to prevent Violence against Children to create safer and more inclusive schools across the globe, particularly in the South Asia region.
- Child centric and gender sensitive and equitable program design
Creating safer schools involves building child-centric, gender-sensitive, and equitable programmes. This approach places children's unique needs, experiences, and aspirations at the forefront, ensuring that interventions resonate with their individual journeys. Moreover, a gender-sensitive curriculum design acknowledges and rectifies the imbalances and biases that perpetuate violence. This model will not only prevent Violence against Children in schools but also will improve learning outcomes, transforming children, their parents and their communities into agents of change in the long-run.
- Integrated whole-school interventions
Integrated whole-school interventions constitute a comprehensive approach to combating Violence against Children within educational institutions. These interventions can effectively address the issue of violence holistically. But it is important to involve all stakeholders, from children and teachers to parents and administrators. This will tackle immediate instances of violence while fostering a culture of respect, understanding, and empathy within the entire school community. 
- Fostering local leadership and ownership of the agenda
The report suggests that it is critical to proactively shape the narrative around this issue on a regional scale, while embracing a socio-ecological framework that acknowledges the interconnected nature of the challenge. Additionally, it is important to seek the support of aligned partners and experts from the global south to collectively address the issue of violence against children in schools across the South Asian region. This will generate awareness among children, their parents and the teachers who will then make efforts to promote safer and more inclusive learning environments in schools.
"Globally, there is momentum to prevent and reduce the effects of Violence against Children to ensure the well-being of children. Preventing violence is also critical for preventing life-long intergenerational effects and ensuring that children reach their full potential. Violence prevention is therefore not just a moral imperative, but a strategic obligation for society at large," added Bhattacharya.  
About Coalition for Good Schools
Coalition for Good Schools are a collection of leading Global South practitioners committed to preventing violence against children in and through schools across Latin America, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Coalition elevates insights and evidence-based programs in order to provide critical tools, data, and best practices for sustainable, local solutions.
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