Let’s make schools safe for all girls and boys
Today, the Send My Friend to School Campaign launched its 2018 campaign, ‘Make Schools Safe’.
For many years, Plan International UK has been part of Send My Friend to School, a national movement that gets hundreds of thousands of young people campaigning on global issues across the UK each year.
Last year, 300,000 students called on the UK to increase aid to education; in previous years efforts have focused on girls, children with disabilities and education in emergencies, amongst others.
This year, the campaign turns its attention to a different issue, and one which we at Plan International UK have been working on for some time: school safety.
A space that should be safe for children
Schools should be safe and happy places where children can benefit from a quality education. Unfortunately, millions of children around the world are not safe at school.
The reasons for this are numerous and vary greatly. Too many young people face the threat of their school being bombed or attacked by the military during conflict, or the negative impact of natural disasters and extreme weather.
Millions more face bullying, corporal punishment or sexual violence in non-conflict settings – our longitudinal cohort study Real Choices, Real Lives revealed this in great detail last year. More needs to be done to get to grips with these disastrous threats to learning.
In their new policy report, Safe from harm: protecting every child and teacher at school, Send My Friend explores some of these threats and sets out a series of recommendations for the UK Government.
Each day, 15 life-threatening attacks on education take place. That’s why, alongside students, teachers, MPs and others, we are calling on the UK Government to sign the Safe Schools Declaration – a political statement of support to protect education during conflict.
The UK hasn’t signed the declaration, yet 72 other countries have, including long-term G7 allies Canada and France.
School safety in non-conflict settings
Send My Friend’s new report also focuses on school safety in non-conflict settings and builds on our Learn Without Fear campaign, which saw great gains for children worldwide.
It calls on the UK Government to support governments who stand ready to implement education policies that protect children and staff from abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation.
The report also calls for more attention to be paid to the impact of disasters. Referencing learning from our programmes in Peru, Send My Friend calls on the UK Government to explore how it can help strengthen education systems facing extreme weather and disasters.
With a number of important global moments on the horizon – the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and G7 Summit to name just two – the moment is now to call on governments to make schools safe.
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