|Preliminary Investigation of the Abuse of Girls in Zimbabwean Junior Secondary Schools - Education Research Paper No. 39 (DFID, 2000, 100 p.)|
|5. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS THE ABUSE OF GIRLS IN SCHOOLS|
As has been seen, strategic actions to address the abuse of girls can cover a wide range of areas which include: individual initiatives by girls and by teachers with their pupils; school-based initiatives, usually with the head responsible for seeing them through; and initiatives by the Ministry. Teachers, school heads and Ministry officials all need to encourage parents to become more involved in the school. An integral holistic approach to stamping out abuse is necessary.
It is not difficult to see that the above strategic actions require significant change of attitude and behaviour on the part of teachers, head teachers, parents, Ministry officials, boys, and girls themselves. The issue of sexual abuse is tied up with the illegal use of corporal punishment, as they form part of the same culture of violence within schools. Change in attitude and behaviour at the individual level will only be effective if it results in a change of institutional culture, towards a more 'caring' and democratically run school.
Translating the above from being just a 'wish list' of desirable changes, created by individuals and groups who prefer to see others take action rather than themselves, into a strategic plan is not easy. However, below are listed some possible Ministry interventions which might form part of a strategic plan:
· School-based interventions can be initiated through NGOs already doing work with abused women, e.g. Musasa, or on HIV/AIDS education e.g. ARHEP (see Kaim in references). Given the girls' distrust of teachers, any interventions which rely exclusively on teachers are unlikely to work. A national NGO, possibly with external funding, could send experienced facilitators into schools to run participatory workshops with girls and boys to develop awareness of the seriousness of abuse (as an activity that can bring civil prosecution or disciplinary measures on the perpetrator), and to identify suitable strategies for victims to report it and contain it effectively.
· School-based workshops can be held with teachers and parents to raise awareness of the issues surrounding abuse and develop school-based action plans to address it. Bringing the issue into an open forum for debate will make it more difficult for perpetrators to carry on without fear of being reported.
· At the regional and national level, a conference can be organised to disseminate the findings of the report to education officers, school heads, and to civic leaders, police officers, social welfare officers and NGO personnel working with children and adolescents. This can be supplemented by a series of workshops which seek to develop national and regional initiatives and draw up an action plan for targeting schools.
· External support can be provided to NGOs or other civil groups so that they can engage in lobbying and advocacy work to bring the issue to the forefront of the government policy agenda in the field of education and health.
· Funding can be provided for additional research into the effects that abuse has on girls' learning and achievement (not explored in this study).
21 During the workshops, one girl said she had reported a boy who hit her to the police and he had been fined - she insisted that she had gone alone to the police station. It was not possible to verify her story.
22 Those heads interviewed appeared to find it difficult to confront the issue of teacher abuse, abuse by older boys and general bullying in their schools. They were quick to blame the teachers for their loose morals, the pupils for their poor upbringing, the parents for their ignorance and bad behaviour, and the community generally.