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Thailand workshop to mitigate SRGBV “Connect with Respect: Preventing gender-based violence in schools”

 

Thailand is one of the leading countries in the Asia-Pacific region that has developed legal and policy frameworks to stop gender-based violence in all areas of society, including the education sector.  It has several laws and policies that ensure gender equality, but notably the Gender Equality Act (2015) to curb any discriminatory practices in social lives and the Domestic Violence Act (2007) to address gender-based violence in the households.  The most recent and most progressive law is the Adolescent Pregnancy Act (2016) that ensures that all students will be taught comprehensive sexuality education and will be provided with a safe and inclusive learning environment including during pregnancy.  The Ministry of Education also has another policy guidance governing child protection within its education system with the aim to ensure safe learning environment, free from any forms of violence.

Supported by this positive policy environment, UNESCO Bangkok organized the workshop “Connect with Respect: Preventing gender-based violence in schools”, in collaboration with the Center for Health Policy Studies (CHPS), Mahidol University from 11 to12 November 2016.

The workshop was attended by 40 representatives from the Ministry of Education, academics (mostly representing teacher training programs), school teachers and representatives of Thai non-governmental organizations.

The workshop introduced the concept of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) and a practical curriculum tool - the Connect with Respect classroom program. The curriculum tool has been designed to help teachers deal with SRGBV in their local context and to teach secondary grade students to understand the causes and effects of gender-based violence, and thereby, to develop their skills for building respectful relationships. This tool is the result of a collaborative effort among partners in the East Asia and Pacific United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) working group. This includes: Plan International, UN Women, UNICEF and UNESCO. 

The workshop participants have learned key concepts and classroom lessons, including school policy to tackle SRGBV issues. They also shared their own knowledge and experience in mitigating the problems in their school situations.  Because many of the participants, although coming from various parts of Thailand, shared the same concerns and commitments in providing safe environments to their students in relation to gender issues, there were very lively exchanges throughout the two days of the workshop.  The participants discussed numerous ways that they could be using the ‘Connect with Respect’ tool to facilitate their work.  For example, at the university level, contents might be introduced in teacher training programmes and other subjects such as social psychology. NGO participants were planning to use the contents in both school and out-of-school contexts. Participants working directly in or with schools saw a number of entry points for introducing selected contents in the schools they were working with.  Towards the end of the workshop, the participants have vowed to work for schools that are free from gender-based violence.

The workshop also served as a country-level follow-up to the Asia Pacific Regional training workshop “Connect with Respect: Preventing gender-based violence in schools”, which took place on 1-2 September 2016 where 40 participants from the UN agencies, professionals from the field of education, and CSO developed a common understanding of SRGBV, and were introduced to the tool “Connect with Respect”. The regional training workshop was organised by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) in partnership with UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) East Asia and Pacific Regional (EAPRO) and the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

By Anjana Suvarnananda 

 



10.02.2017