We need to work on the bureaucracy and the Asian minds, one Principal said in our meeting with the People’s Committee of Cu Chi District. Just one hour earlier, we had all had put our handprint on a wall with strong colours to commit to the fact that this is all about the children.
We all know the feeling, working against the system or somebody who has a belief that is other than ours, but when it comes to children’s right to an education and a safe environment we should not have to fight.
Every day, Save the Children takes this fight to ensure that children have the chance to go to school. In addition, that they can do so without being in an unsafe environment with a mindset which includes corporal punishment and discrimination, based on whom you are and where you are from.
Our IWitness group from Norway was ready to go to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam just to see the good work done by Save the Children’s project for inclusive education, sponsored by the IKEA Foundation Good Cause campaign. We have met around 8,000 children in project schools, numerous teachers and a handful of politicians. What we did not expect was the similarities from our home and the effect this visit would have on us.
We met many children with dreams of being doctors, nurses, teachers, actors, artists and bosses. And our job is to make it possible for the kids to work towards these goals. We have to give them equal rights, safe schools, the right upbringing and the right tools to reach their goals.
Save the Children, with support from the IKEA Foundation, works hard for this. It is just ending phase one with 16 project schools and now starting phase two with around 50 schools. Their goals are to secure marginalised children access to good quality inclusive education. They also aim to eliminate corporal punishment in project schools, and to make civil society, communities and the government take responsibility for and engage in children’s rights to a violence-free and participatory education.
Save the Children is not alone! We met dedicated students, parents, teachers, principals and politicians. They all work for the same cause. We all work for the same cause: Children’s rights!
The phase one project schools showed results better than expected: – 50 core teachers from 16 schools were trained as master trainers and facilitators. – 480 teachers trained on positive discipline. – 48 school member trained in counselling. – Child-led initiatives were seen in every school. – 320 children were trained as core students in child protection. – New evaluation method applied in all 16 schools.
The love we felt and the dedication we saw in all the people we met tells us that this is not a problem. It is just another challenge on the road to make this world a better place for children. And it is our job—it is my job and it is your job—to make this world a safer and better place for children. Rome was not built in one day, neither will all the challenges for children’s rights be resolved in a day…But it starts with small change, a new counselling room, a renewed classroom a handshake and a handprint on a wall!
The 2016 IWitness team is now leaving Vietnam, but Vietnam will never leave us. (Fellow citizens: do your job!)