Strategic Protection for Girls: Creating Safe Learning Environments
The third broad approach to gender equality in education relates to "Safe Learning Environments" or "Safe Schools" campaigns and projects. This approach is one way of taking a holistic and strategic approach to the protection needs of all students. It also targets female teachers, classroom assistants and education personnel, and promotes women's and girls' involvement in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of protection strategies.
Safe Schools projects and policies aim to engage all stakeholders in the process, ensuring that male and female teachers, students, parents, community members and others are aware of their different responsibilities. For example, teachers who understand and have signed a code of conduct know that they have certain professional responsibilities with respect to the protection and well-being of the students. Students also know that they have certain responsibilities too. All have responsibility for creating safe schools beyond own actions and behaviors. As highlighted in the IRC's own Mandatory Reporting Policies (MRP), teachers and other education personnel also need to take actions if they see or are aware of other teachers or others taking advantage of their positions and exploiting students.
Parents, too, have the right and the responsibility to take actions if they are aware of misconduct by teachers, but they can also be more proactive in creating safe schools. For example, by working together to clear brush around the school, they can lessen the risks for abuse, especially for girls and young students. Another example would be parents and community members working out a roster to accompany children to and from school to avoid potentially dangerous situations.