Case Study 2: Classroom Assistants in Sierra Leone and Guinea
A sad reality for girls in refugee schools in Sierra Leone and Guinea is that schools have been places in which they are at risk of exploitation and abuse – and shockingly by some of the very teachers who are supposed to be protecting and supporting them. Certainly boys have also suffered in learning environments where corporal punishment, verbal abuse, low-quality instruction and teacher absence frequently occurs. But the sexual nature of the risks for girls in and around schools is a critical gender dimension of student well-being that had to be addressed.
It is widely acknowledged (inside and outside crisis contexts) that the presence of female teachers can significantly increase girls' enrollment and retention in schools. INEE Minimum Standards recommend engaging women from the same community where schools exist as a counter-balance to the male teachers and as a protection for the girls, especially in upper primary classes. See "Teachers and Other Education Personnel, Standard 1: Recruitment and Selection."