RESH Highlights Gender-Responsive Education
In the wake of the sexual exploitation scandals engulfing our educational sector, RESH continues to strive to make impacts via awareness, psychosocial counselling, advocacy, capacity building and research.
As many angry and frustrated victims and their families ceaselessly relive the ordeals of their experiences, RESH-Liberia has embarked upon a proactive scheme geared towards enhancing a gender-friendly and safer school environment. This quest gave birth to a pilot project, entitled, “Liberia-Girls Education: Advocacy and Research Capacity Building for CSOs in Gender-Responsive Education.”
The project is an initiative of Renewed Energy Serving Humanity (RESH), a local NGO that support victims, survivors and their families, caregivers’ communities and people with psychosocial problems. RESH is working in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office-Liberia and the University of Liberia.
The project Technical Consultant, Jessi Hanson, stated that it focuses on gender-responsive and child-friendly schools resources.Speaking at a working over the weekend in Paynesville, Ms. Hanson said the project is to develop CSOs technical capacity,engage, develop, implement and monitor gender responsive education sector plans, policies and budgets.
“It also offers statistical and qualitative research findings to demonstrate how research can help understand advancement and remaining challenges in Liberia,” the RESH Consultant, who is a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs and is doing her dissertation, noted.
The training focus on exploring what gender-responsive and child-friendly schooling is, promoting the voices of CSOs in advocating gender-responsive education at community and district levels.
She added that research conducted so far indicates that many people don’t’ really know about the policies around protecting children, especially at school.
“Research also shows that many girls are being raped at a very young age. This doesn’t only exist in schools but the society as a whole. We need to work with the young men to create more awareness around issues human rights and sexual violence and exploitation. We can train them to be good citizens,” Ms. Hanson noted. She has been involved in non-for-profit works, mostly education, in Liberia for the past six years.
“For the past few years, we have given much attention to the girl child, but what we want to do now is to elevate both the girls and boys together so that they obtain quality education in the schools,”
The goal, she noted, is to really help CSOs support monitoring and research in the various schools to know whether these schools are gender friendly—the girl child and the boy child are receiving an equal and equitable access.
She fear that a lot of girls are getting pregnant at a very young age, though some teachers are involve in the act of impregnating these girls, much of the problems is with the older boys.
“It is a problem with the older male students,” she said, “Because of the civil crisis people got delayed from going to school and so you could have a 13 years old in a class with a boy who is 20 years old. We need to tell these older boys that they cannot have relationship with the girls.”
This initiative could not had come at a better time as the country is being faced a massive child molestation scandal that have brought the country on its knees again.
However, he last weekend event was the first of four workshops that will be held under the project with a total of 30 CSOs from religious, educational, youth groups and others. The project is anticipated to last six month initiative.The project is concentrated in Montserrado because, according to Ms. Hanson, where ¼ of the population lives. “So if we can change here, than we can change other places later.
British Ambassador, David Belgrove committed his government continual support to education, especially girls’ education in the country and the empowerment of girls and boys through gender responsive education. “These are invaluable to the forward march of the country.”He indicated that the CSOs will help to investigate the quality and safety of schools for all children. “The research will be used to improve and advocate for resources for Liberian kids,” he said.
RESH-Liberia Founder and Executive Director Ernest Garnark Smith, Jr. lauded the trainees for the huge turnout, their willingness to become agents of chance,and,he challenged them to diligently give their best to humanity via the provision of the services for which they are being trained. He further stressed that they will be afforded the opportunity to attend refresher trainings and have RESH supervisors conducting on-site visitations in their assigned communities to buttress their efforts. Mr. Smith applauded the donor and all stakeholders for partnering with RESH-Liberia.
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