Making schools safe for children – Policy Brief No. 1 / 18

Executive Summary

This policy brief deals with the issue of making schools, pupils and teachers safe from exposure to political violence during elections. The brief builds upon previous research carried out by RAU, and the recent (related) decision by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to protect children from attending political meetings.

The brief outlines the risks for children and teachers and recommends that the Zimbabwe Government declare all schools as safe zones, free from any political activity, during the forthcoming elections and beyond. Additionally, the brief recommends that the Government endorse, with 74 other countries, the Safe Schools Declaration of the Global Campaign to Protect Schools under Attack.

Introduction

Zimbabwe has an unenviable reputation in the SADC region for holding violent elections. One of the lesser known consequences of the electoral violence is the exposure of young children to political violence, both as victims and witnesses. This was described in a series of reports by RAU in the aftermath of the violent elections in 2008. The study revealed that 25% of the teachers interviewed had experienced some form of political violence at school and during working hours. With so many schools being primary schools, this meant that young children were being exposed to violence.

This finding is not unique to Zimbabwe, and the international community, aware of the deleterious consequences to children of political violence and war when schools are not protected, launched the Global Campaign to Protect Education under Attack (GCPEA).

This is the focus of this policy brief.

Source: Research and Advocacy Unit

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