News from Rumbek
Safeguarding our children through child protection initiatives
At Loreto Rumbek, children are under our care and keeping them safe is everyone’s responsibility. Child protection training aims to equip staff with the knowledge and skills essential for providing a safe and conducive environment for the development of children.
It also helps children to understand their rights, responsibilities, and the organization’s codes of conduct for respectful and nurturing interactions with peers and adults.
On 2nd April, 2019, the secondary teachers had a three-hour workshop focused on child protection facilitated by Mr. Amos Abe, the school’s Head of Discipline. This workshop was part of an organization-wide initiative to provide comprehensive child protection training for all staff, with support from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
In March 2019, Mr. Amos attended a MCC sponsored 3-day training of trainers (TOT) workshop along with Ms. Jamesina Cholhok, the Head of Discipline for the Loreto Primary School.
Since then, Mr. Amos and Ms. Jamesina have been working to provide training for other staff at the secondary school, primary school, primary healthcare unit and support offices.
Child protection focuses on the actions taken to protect children from neglect, exploitation, violence, and abuse. In their discussions, secondary school teachers viewed child abuse as, “a situation that causes actual or potential harm and abuse to a child.”
This entails any form of bullying, discrimination, neglect, emotional abuse, witchcraft/ritual abuse, physical abuse related to cultural malpractices, and sexual abuse including early/forced marriages.
Threat of forced marriage and violence
In many parts of Rumbek, and South Sudan as a whole, many girls face threats of early/forced marriage and failure to submit can lead to physical violence and neglect from parents and elders. The teachers also discussed positive discipline strategies, which help to create a caring environment for learners, by reinforcing positive behaviors and minimizing undesirable behaviors.
According to Mr. Amos, “We safeguard the children from harm within the school setting and out of the school, we trust them to be under the care of their parents and guardians. The training has emphasized on what we usually carry out on daily basis to safeguard those under our care”.
These policies will be helpful as students will feel safe when in and out of school since the training will be extended to the surrounding community and our students will also be beneficiaries of this training program.
During the 2-day child protection training for the primary school teachers, Ms. Jamesina encouraged teachers to be good role models and to speak positively to learners, stating “We should mind our speech when we are with children, it can have an impact for the rest of their lives.”
The teachers discussed the steps that the school takes to provide a safe environment for children. One teacher, Stephen Majak, pointed out, “There is no corporal punishment of children in this school.”
In addition, the teachers examined ways in which cultural practices in the area might influence learners and teachers, and create an unsafe environment for students. In particular, issues related to gender inequality were examined.
Christine Ocokoru, a teacher reported, “Although this is a mixed school, in some classes, the students arrange themselves by gender, one side for girls and one side for boys.”
Teachers were encouraged to dissuade students from this behavior, with Gabriel Nyang, the Headteacher commenting, “Some people say that girls are slow learners, when a teacher enters the class, he might focus only on the boys. Do not do this!”
Overall, the teachers and the clinic staff have found the training to be very informative and practical, helping them to maintain a safe environment for children at Loreto Rumbek.