In collaboration with UNICEF, the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, spearheaded by its Gender Unit, successfully wrapped up a comprehensive three-day training addressing School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) at the Roman Catholic Primary School for Boys in Pujehun.

Ann Lilian Julian Konneh, Deputy Director of the Ministry’s Gender Unit, explained to Sierraloaded that the training aimed to involve various stakeholders in combating SRGBV, aligning with the ministry’s implementation of all-school approach minimal standards. Recognizing the prevalent impact of Gender-Based Violence within schools, Konneh highlighted the myriad issues such as dropouts, group exclusion, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, extortion, discrimination, and corporal punishment.

Referring to the findings of the UN Girls Education Initiative’s 2019 research on SRGBV, Konneh emphasized UNICEF’s crucial support in implementing policies to reduce, prevent, and refer cases. This year, the targeted districts for UNICEF-funded training include Kambia, Bonthe, Kono, and Pujehun.

Konneh stressed that corporal punishment constitutes a human rights violation, leading to adverse effects like school dropouts, stress, absenteeism, truancy, and reduced learner participation. Despite previous training initiatives, she pledged the ministry’s commitment to reaching more participants and urged them to share acquired knowledge to eradicate SRGBV.

Madam Konneh reiterated that the Ministry of Education’s primary goal is to enhance learning outcomes and improve formative and cumulative evaluation to support children in achieving their education.

Thomas Abu, the Free Quality Assurance Officer, emphasized the training’s importance in equipping participants to create a protective environment for children, especially considering the recent parliamentary approval of the Gender Act. One hundred participants, including head teachers, SMC, CTA, traditional leaders, and the inter-religious council, actively engaged in the training.