The Kenya violence against children survey 2019, revealed that 48% of girls and 49% of boys aged 13-17 experienced physical violence while 11% of the girls and 4% of boys reported having experienced sexual violence.
Cases of gender-based violence in schools range from physiological bullying, harsh disciplinary actions, defilement, rape, and transitional sex for favors i.e. for money and good grades. Both teachers and learners have fallen victim to these forms of violence.
Education has an integral role to play to demystify negative cultural and social norms that contribute to gender-based violence. This is through informing, empowering, and transforming the lives and mindsets of young people, especially girls. Schools are also designed to provide a safe, accommodative environment that promotes gender equality.
However, the high prevalence of these forms of violence is a great and growing concern. Recent reports have indicated various teachers currently facing disciplinary and judicial proceedings for GBV cases, especially rape and defilement. Some have been interdicted by the teacher’s service commission. Some teachers have also been reported to have secretly taken their daughters for female genital mutilation.
Teachers have also fallen victim to these forms of gender-based violence from fellow staff, colleagues, and learners but most have suffered in silence by not reporting these cases due to fear of speaking out, intimidation, and low self-esteem. These acts of GBV on teachers and learners have undermined the achievement of high-quality, inclusive, and equitable education.
Teachers are an important educational resource. They are responsible for creating a safe and conducive learning environment. This is through protecting and respecting learners as well as providing them with the correct information on Sexual and gender-based violence.
Teachers need to be trained on forms of GBV, prevention, and response to GBV. The teachers should be engaging in the various policies for protecting the children against violence including; the children’s Act 2001, sexual offenses Act 2006, Basic Education Act 2013, and the Ministry of Education gender policy 2007.
There is also a need for a clearly stipulated safeguarding policy in learning institutions and a code of conduct to guide the ethics of teachers and learners. Clear repercussions also need to be outlined and fully enforced to avoid tolerating GBV cases in learning institutions. This will a long way to helping address and respond to cases of gender-based violence in our learning institutions.
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