The Safe Schools Initiative was a series of research, campaign and programmatic activities in a collaboration between Theirworld and the Global Business Coalition for Education to raise the profile of safe schools and learning environments in times of conflict and emergencies.
The first Safe Schools Initiative was launched in Nigeria in May 2014 after the kidnapping of more than 270 girls from their school in Chibok.
The Safe Schools Initiative in action
In times of crisis, such as after a conflict or natural disaster, children need reliable places where they can continue to learn, play and realise their full potential. Safe Schools which offer supervision, services and teaching can save children’s lives in the short term and help them to develop in the long term.
Here are some of the Safe Schools Initiatives that Theirworld has been involved in:
The first Safe Schools Initiative was launched in Nigeria in May 2014 after 276 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok.
It started with an investment from the Global Business Coalition for Education and matching contributions from the Government of Nigeria and the international donor community, championed by A World at School.
Nearly 50,000 children displaced from their homes by Boko Haram have been helped in various ways, including:
- Moving students in the highest-risk areas to schools to safer parts of the country
- A programme for rebuilding schools and adding security
- Teaching and education materials for displaced children in camps
- Provision and distribution of learning materials
- Teacher training
When Nigeria's new government took power in 2015, many of the Safe Schools Initiative's activities were not pursued as a policy priority. Campaigners are calling for the initiative to be revived and reinstated.
The Ebola crisis meant that more than five million children were kept out of their classrooms in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In November 2014 "Ebola Emergency: Restoring Education, Creating Safe Schools and Preventing a Long-term Crisis" was published by the Global Business Coalition and A World at School. It recommended the following urgent measures to get children back to school:
- Setting up distance learning programmes
- Developing a staff payment system
- Developing a plan for reopening schools
- Training education staff on Ebola prevention
- Using schools to trace and monitor children
- Starting school feeding programmes
- Providing psychological and physical support to students
- Developing contingency plans for future emergencies
Over the first few months of 2015 schools began to reopen and pupils returned to classes.
In 2015, Theirworld, with A World at School and the Global Business Coalition for Education, launched a collection of reports on the state of the educational crisis for Syrian refugee children in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon aimed at reaching one million Syrian refugees with education.
Working with the Lebanese government, a double-shift scheme was set up with Lebanese children attending school in the morning and Syrian refugee children in the afternoon.
Turkey has hosted many Syrian refugees which has created huge challenges in educating all the children safely. To help meet these challenges, the plan included an increase in the number of Syrian volunteer teachers while training Syrian and Turkish teachers to better support refugees. At the same time, the government worked. To enable the double-shift system in public schools and increase the number of classes available in areas with the most refugees.
The Global Business Coalition and Theirworld worked to help Jordan meet the needs of the Syrian refugees. They highlighted the key challenges and laid out the critical need for more involvement, money and support from the international community
In February 2015 after the Peshawar school massacre, the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School highlighted 15 recommendations which were endorsed by the Prime Minister. The recommendations included community-based and school-based interventions and help for those most at risk.
The Global Business Coalition for Education, Theirworld and UNICEF launched a Safe Schools Latin America initiative in 2015. Officially called the Strong Schools and Communities Initiative, it sought to promote actions to reduce the violence in the school environment and ensure the right of all children and adolescents to receive a quality education.
More than 21 million children and adolescents are out of school or at risk of dropping out in the region - with the presence of delinquents, gangs and arms in schools being a major cause.
"Real progress has been made...there are a lot of learning opportunities to keep improving safe schools initiatives aimed at widening attracting new partners to fund, support, promote and reach more children with quality and safe learning opportunities."