FAWE’s model to protect the African Girl Child – Forum for African Women Educationalists: FAWE

Julie Khamati, Programme Assistant

While Sub-Saharan African governments acknowledge the value of education attainment for all as a driver of economic and national development, school related gender-based violence (SRGBV) continues to be a continental barrier to access and participation of learners in school (African Union 2020). Despite being recognized as places of personal development, learning and empowerment, schools often perpetuate some forms of violence and discrimination particularly with a bias against girls. According to UN Women (2016), 246 million children are subject to various forms of gender-based violence in and around the school every year. This is exacerbated in conflict and post conflict situations and for minorities and vulnerable learners. Some of the common forms of SRGBV include bullying, corporal punishment, and sexual harassment (UN Women, 2016). Worldwide, at least one in ten girls between the ages of 13 and 15 is likely to experience sexual violence and boys within the school are likely to experience severe corporal punishment (UNESCO, 2017). Millions of learners live in fear of physical abuse disguised as discipline. In addition, millions of learners face significant barriers reaching school everyday both in rural and urban areas and this affects their overall class attendance. For example, in some countries ‘boda-boda’ riders tend to prey on school going girls and engage in transactional sex for basic needs such as sanitary products and meals (Education News, 2022).

Efforts have been made globally to address SRGBV with schools acting as violence prevention centers (UN Women, 2016). The African Union, through its Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016- 2025 (CESA 2016 -2025) under pillar 3, champions for the need to eliminate any forms of violence within the school and training setups. Further, the Gender Equality Strategy for the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (GES4CESA) developed by FAWE on behalf of African Union exemplifies the commitments to curbing SRGBV in learning institutions.

Understanding contextual differences in African countries is key to preventing and addressing SRGBV in education institutions. Recently, FAWE developed a mirrored approach manual in response to a global call to prevent, respond and adopt mechanisms to stop SRGBV. The manual draws strongly from best practices documented under FAWE models including the Gender Responsive Pedagogy and Tuseme “Let’s Speak Out1.” Given FAWE’s understanding of the African context, the manual recommends solutions and preventive measures relevant to the context. The FAWE mirrored approach SRGBV manual is two-fold and as such, targets both school administrators and learners, and aims to strengthen their capacity to identify, prevent and respond to SRGBV. Lastly, it also offers monitoring and evaluation tools that are instrumental in tracking the effectiveness of measures put in place in schools to prevent SRGBV.

Addressing SRGBV calls for concerted efforts from different partners and FAWE continues to spearhead interventions that aim to eliminate all forms of violence in schools and promote access, enrolment, and performance of learners in school.

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