Launch of a school campaign against violence against children

Two students attend a forum on ending violence against children in and around schools (END VAC), June 28. Photo provided

A senior education official has called for the elimination of all violence in schools and communities to ensure that all children are protected from harm when attending public and private schools and can study in safe environments. safe learning.

Put Samith, Head of the General Department of Education at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, made the call during the official launch of the Operational Manual on School Child Protection (OMCPS) held on June 28 in Phnom Penh.

Samith said education officials and teachers must work to eliminate all forms of discrimination, including those based on social status, race, religion, language, gender, physical fitness and any other aspect of a child’s appearance.

He further noted that the provision of equal, professional, conscientious, responsible and quality education services is the basis for building a society with citizens who have the knowledge and skills to develop the nation.

As part of its vision for the Cambodian curriculum, the Ministry of Education aims to increase the Kingdom’s human resource pool and help the children it educates become capable citizens through moral and civic education.

Samith added that the ministry wants children and young people to become non-violent and dignified people who follow their conscience and are dedicated to building a better future.

“We want a society in which people live in harmony, which is by definition a society without violence where people can live in dignity,” he said.

Bianca Collier, Acting Country Director of Save the Children Cambodia, said OMCPS was created as part of the Ending Violence Against Children in and around schools in Cambodia (END VAC) initiative – a project led by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with its organization, Plan International Cambodia, World Vision International and other partner organizations.

The project has been the basis for nationwide implementation next year after being piloted over 21 months from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022, including an additional six months in Siem Reap and Preah Vihear provinces.

“The development and launch of OMCPS is an important step towards END VAC,” she said.

Chum Channra, education specialist at UNICEF Cambodia, said Cambodia was stepping up its efforts to eliminate violence against children.

“The involvement of teachers, communities and parents will also be helpful in preventing violence in terms of knowledge and support,” he added.

He noted that some teachers and parents never realized that what they were doing by punishing children for misbehavior actually amounted to violence against them. They were just repeating the same behaviors that were passed down from generation to generation, believing that if they didn’t use violence to punish children, they wouldn’t listen or obey.

“Forcing teachers and parents to stop all use of corporal punishment is not enough. We need to get them to consciously choose not to do that anymore. If we simply forbid them to beat their children, they will simply resent the authorities for interfering with their classrooms or homes. We have to convince them that it is wrong, harmful and unnecessary because there are better ways,” Channra said.

Sao Lay, a grade 5 teacher at Thmea Primary School in Chey Sen district of Preah Vihear province, said that before the implementation of the project, teachers at his school regularly resorted to violence. against some students in order to discipline them and keep order in the classroom, rationalizing that it was for the good of the child, but now the mentalities have changed there.

“They advised us not to use five forms of violence – physical, mental, sexual, indifference or exploitation. They have introduced a reporting system in schools where now when children have a problem they report it to the teacher who alerts the school administration, who now provides them with advice,” he said. declared.

Nhav Srey Nich, a 6th grade student from Banteay Srei Primary School in Siem Reap province, said that after the implementation of the END VAC project, she learned how to protect herself and how to report it and how to study hard.

Nhav Srey Nich, a 6th grade student at Banteay Srei Primary School in Siem Reap province, said that after completing the END VAC project at her school, she learned a lot about how to protect herself against abuse and who to report it to when it happens.

“The project let me know that children have rights and told us about different forms of violence other than beatings. Now we know there are rules against this that can protect us if we are going to report this happening,” she said.

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