“A lot of time we think of natural disasters only, however, there are also man-made disasters that we humans cause [that make our children unsafe].” – Emele* teacher
Located on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ and in a ‘cyclone belt’, Vanuatu is uniquely susceptible to a wide range of natural hazards and risks such as earthquakes, volcanic eruption, landslide, tsunami, tropical cyclones, storm surge, drought, and flooding. And with climate change expected to further exacerbate existing risks, children face significant barriers to fulfilling their rights to education and physical safety.
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But it’s not just natural disasters that pose a threat. A report from 2018 show many children in Vanuatu experiencing corporal punishment and bullying in schools, while previous studies have shown high rates of sexual violence.
But with your support, and in partnership with the New Zealand Government’s Aid Programme, we are making schools safer for children in Vanuatu. Seif Skul aims to make all children in Vanuatu better protected from violence, climate risks, disasters and everyday hazards when in and around schools, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working alongside our partners, Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) we’re working at a local school, community and national level on a range of activities to ensure we reach our goal by 2025.
This has included running Safe School workshops with teachers, child friendly activities to celebrate Vanuatu’s national children’s day, Pikinini Day, contributing technology devices and funding a Child Safeguarding Officer position in the MoET for 2022 with the agreement that MoET will fund the position from 2023 forward.
One of the teachers to take part in the workshops was Emele*, an experienced teacher from the Sanma Province. After attending the workshops, she better understands the range of hazards that can impact children feeling safe at school, including physical harm and discipline of children. She is on a mission to help other teachers learn what needs to change to ensure schools are safe for all children, especially those who need help.
“Now that I’ve attended the training and returned, I can say that our children are glad to learn in a school that is safe. I’ve noticed a weakness that we must improve on is how teachers treat the students, especially in disciplining and when students aren’t being helped well or helped enough.
“After the first workshop, I went back and urged the teachers to make a change. The school environment also must change, it has to be safe for the children to use.”