The 2018 Send My Friend To School campaign to Make Schools Safe launches today!
The Send My Friend to School campaign, which RESULTS is a part of, is a coalition of over 20 organisations and teaching unions, working to ensure every child gets a quality education. This year, we will be joining Send My Friend to call on the UK Government to tackle many of the safety issues that children face in schools around the world by signing and committing to the Safe Schools Declaration.
The Safe Schools Declaration is an international political commitment by countries to do more to protect schools, students, teachers and universities during armed conflict. As of January 2018, 72 countries had signed the Safe Schools Declaration, but not the UK.
Schools should be safe havens for children. But for millions of children around the world school is a place of violence and danger. Quality education is empowering and transformative. It prepares young people for life and helps them reach their full potential. For this to happen, schools need to be safe havens – places where young people are able to learn and thrive. In the UK, we often take this for granted.
Unfortunately, 246 million children are experiencing violence at school every year. Millions of children are at risk of harm simply by trying to get an education. Agrina, for example, is 15 and lives in Zambia’s Southern District with her family. She attends the Njola East Community School and walks alone to school for over 3 hours each way, every day. She also has to collect water for her school, which is another 2-kilometre walk. She describes her feelings of fear when walking to school alone, especially feeling intimidated by “men who are not good”. Once at school, there are just 2 poorly constructed latrines that are shared by over 180 students and are at risk of collapsing. The latrines have no doors and lack privacy: “my mind is always conscious that someone might walk in on me”, says Agrina.
Stories like Agrina’s show why schools must be protected against danger and violence. Young people who feel unsafe are more likely to miss school, have lower grades, drop out, and are unable to break out the cycle of poverty. They may also suffer from physical, emotional and mental health issues.
The UK Government has an important role to play in helping to meet Global Goal 4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. But the achievement of this goal is currently in jeopardy.
This year, we’ll be joining Send My Friend to send a signal to the government that schools should be safe havens. Teachers and students around the UK will also be getting involved. For more information on the campaign or to find this year's Teacher's Pack, take a look at the Send My Friend website.