Violence in and around schools is a worldwide problem with serious implications for the educational attainment, health and well-being of all children. The deeply rooted cultural norms in South Sudan further aggravates the problem. The physical, sexual and psychological abuse suffered by both girls and boys at the hands of teachers, classmates drives children out of school and can leave long-lasting scars invisible to the eye.
School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) has short and long-term consequences on both educational performance and health outcomes. GBV has resulted in school children being unable to concentrate, attaining lower grades, losing interest in school, transferring to different schools and even leaving formal schooling altogether. Reproductive health manifestations include risk-taking behaviors, unintended pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Equally harmful are the psychological outcomes of GBV, which range from symptoms of anxiety and depression to suicide attempts.
There is little political will in South Sudan for the implementation of policies that aim to achieve gender equity and promote girls’ participation in schools. The absence of a standardized curriculum is a setback in the integration of GBV in school syllabus. The South Sudan Education curriculum is currently adopted from neighboring countries with various schools using different curriculum. There is need to train teachers on their role in advocating for safe learning environments free of GBV. Teachers need to be empowered to demand for a harmonized school curriculum and then integrate GBV education into the curriculum and ensure both teachers and students nationwide are trained on prevention and response to GBV.
Crown The Woman-South Sudan (CREW) organized a training to provide teachers with an understanding of School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV). The training was meant to provide participants with knowledge and skills to enable them understand SRGBV and their roles in prevention and response. At the classroom level, teachers need to be trained in the use of nonviolent teaching and discipline practices.
Secondly, some of the teachers are actively involved in various committees ranging from examination councils to curriculum revisions, there was need to provide the training in order to ensure that trained teachers adequately voice GBV issues at various Ministry Of Education meetings and ensure that ultimately GBV is integrated at policy level and during curriculum review meetings.
Thirdly the training was meant to prepare the participants as mentors for a rights-based life skills programs including school clubs designed by CREW to help both girls and boys break free of harmful gender stereotypes and build skills to protect themselves from violence and abuse.
The objectives of this training were;
- To strengthen participants understanding of sexual and Gender based violence and their role as protectors of students in promoting a safe learning environment.
- To strengthen the capacity of secondary school teachers to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence in a professional and ethical manner.
- To come up with recommendations and school based action plans.
The training targeted 60 participants but only 46 attended. Most of the teachers were graduates and a few came from the Arabic background. The teachers were representatives of seven schools namely; Don Bosco Secondary school, Promise Land Secondary School, Juba day Secondary School, Juba Commercial Secondary School, Juba Diocesan Secondary School, Nile Model Secondary school and Kapuki Secondary School.
The training employed participatory approaches of learning and sharing of experience which sought effective participation of the Arabic pattern /background target group. To ensure effective participation, the groups were subdivided and encouraged to share their perspectives in smaller groups who later converged at the plenary to discuss their input to the larger group represented by one group leader in each group. During plenary all presentations were subjected to debate verify the issues generated and to make additions to views and perspectives being presented.
The 5days training covered; official opening of each workshop by setting the mood using the mood barometer tool for Training and participants’ expectations, Definitions GBV concepts and terminologies, Case study/scenario analysis, School related GBV (SRGBV), Causes of GBV, Risk factors of GBV, Film on GBV produced by CREW, Myths and facts of sexual violence, Role of teachers in GBV prevention, Strategies and tools for responding to GBV in schools, Role of key stakeholders in GBV response, Basic communication Skills and Monitoring GBV strategies in schools. The training successfully ended with each school developing and presenting their action plan towards GBV prevention and Response.