Strong Schools and Communities Initiative
Working together to build safe schools and protective learning environments
In Latin American and the Caribbean, violence in and around schools is negatively impacting the education of millions of children, threatening their immediate safety as well as their ability to build productive lives and meaningful contributions to their families, communities and economies. Violence is exacerbated by and contributes to high poverty rates, inequality, unemployment, corruption, social conflicts, abuse and drug trafficking.
- The most significant causes of violence in education settings are the presence of criminal groups, gang members and weapons in and around schools which create a sense of insecurity, increasing absenteeism, and in many cases can lead to permanent dropouts
- Preliminary (and growing) evidence shows that among the main impacts of violence on education are restricted access to schools, and continued risks and threats to teachers and students. Increasing dropout rates, forced recruitment of children and adolescents in armed groups as well as dangerous routes to and from school, known as invisible borders, further erode the right to education (p. 1).
The UNICEF Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office and the Global Business Coalition for Education invite all stakeholders and business leaders to join a Strong Schools and Communities Initiative (p. 2).Review includes:
- School-based interventions
- Community-based interventions
- National/local-authority-based interventions
School staff, youth, communities, local and national authorities and the private sector should work together to promote the development of effective solutions to improve learning andr educe the negative impacts of violence by:
- Engaging with education actors and other stakeholders in the research and dissemination of innovative and alternative education responses that encourage learning in a safe environment and that protect students, teachers and families from violence
- Supporting training, mentoring and capacity building mechanisms and technologies that improve the capacity of the education system to cope and respond to education needs despite violence
- Working with key actors, adolescents and youth to increase job opportunities
- Promoting dialogue among adolescents and business leaders to identify solutions to structural problems that cause violence as well as ways to reduce existing violence in and around schools and communities
- Strengthening community-private sector partnerships to identify, support and finance national efforts to improve school security measures, especially in high-risk areas
- Engaging local and national authorities in support of a digital campaign across the region to raise awareness of the impact of armed violence on education and to promote a collaborative approach to the development of policies to protect the right to education