by Paul Olson
While it is difficult to define the scale and scope of School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV), it is estimated that 246 million students experience SRGBV each year. Sexual violence against girls is extremely common and occurs while traveling to and from school, in the latrines, and during unsupervised play and results in:
– low self-esteem
– school avoidance
– low participation in class
– inability to concentrate on work
– drop out
Even more striking is the level of violence toward disabled girls aged 11-14 years. In Uganda, 24 percent of girls living with a disability reported experiencing sexual violence at school compared with 12 percent of girls who do not have a disability.
The good news is there are solutions. Schools can also provide gender sensitive curricula, hire more female teachers, educate teachers about SRGBV, educate boys, as well as provide alternative or non-formal educational opportunities for girls who have dropped out and need to catch up. Another solution is as simple as building separate latrines for boys and girls. Other solutions to the problem requires re-opening locally based schools as well as providing safe transportation for students to schools that are far away. Finally, awareness campaigns about children with disabilities have been a proven method of reducing violence while increasing learning. For more information on SRGBV read the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative annual report.