Kathmandu, January 22
Young people from around the world will call on governments, including the Government of Nepal, to end violence in and around schools at the Education World Forum this week.
Representing children and young people from around the globe, Khuthadzo Silima and Jonathan Franca, 18-year-old youth activists from South Africa and the US, will present a manifesto to government ministers at the high-level event in London, detailing what children need to feel safe in and around school.
“The manifesto represents the voices of millions of children and young people who face violence at school every day,” said Silima in a press release issued by UNICEF from London and Kathmandu today ahead of the event. “The message we want to get across is clear, adults must listen to us and take the issue of school violence seriously,” she added.
According to UNICEF, Nepal is no exception to violence against children. More than 80 per cent of children in Nepal, aged between one and 14, experience some form of violent discipline by their parents or teachers.
Through the landmark 2018 act related to children, Nepal has become the first country in South Asia to achieve a complete ban on violent discipline. Nepal also boasts promising initiatives on both operational and legal fronts to address violence against children, including in schools. However, much still needs to be done to ensure that schools in Nepal are safe places for learning.
“Ending violence in schools requires political will – which the Government of Nepal has demonstrated. It also needs to be backed by individual and collective actions,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF representative to Nepal. “Now is the time for leaders at the federal, provincial and local levels — as well as parents, teachers and caregivers — to promote and use positive teaching techniques and positive parenting instead of resorting to violence,” he said.
The #ENDviolence Youth Manifesto was drafted last month by more than 100 children and young people from around the world, including Silima and Franca. It also drew on a recent UNICEF poll of young people, which received more than one million responses from over 160 countries, and suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held around the world.
The manifesto calls on parents, guardians, schools, policymakers, and communities to take students seriously; to establish clear rules; to make laws restricting weapons; to ensure safety to and from school; to provide secure school facilities; to train teachers and counsellors; and to teach consent and respond to sexual violence. It also highlights a commitment from students to be kind, to report violence and to take action themselves, among others.
The #ENDviolence Youth Manifesto is part of a collective effort to #ENDviolence in and around schools, called Safe to Learn, led by organisations including UNICEF, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, UNESCO, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, said UNICEF.
A version of this article appears in print on January 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.