JOINT PRESS RELEASE
Evidence for Policy (E4P) Forum: Evidence of Beneficiaries’ Improved Awareness and Knowledge toward Violence against Children
Save the Children in Cambodia (SCI), World Vision International-Cambodia (WVI-C), and Plan International Cambodia (PLAN), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYs), will organize the Evidence for Policy (E4P) Forum on the Ending Violence Against Children in and around schools in Cambodia (END VAC) project on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. The forum will share evidence drawn from the project’s external evaluation and facilitate a dialogue among the education and child protection sectors, including teachers, student councils, and school principals, regarding the implementation and scalability of School Based Child Protection Mechanism.
In addition, the forum will also officially launch the MoEYS Operational Manual on Child Protection in Schools (OMCPS), which will be attended by H.E. Put Samith, General Director of Education General Department of MoEYs, with opening remarks from SCI Acting Country Director Ms. Bianca Collier, with the presence of senior government officials, representatives of stakeholders, development partners, and UN agencies.
Covering 52 schools in the provinces of Siem Reap and Preah Vihear over 21 months of implementation, the project was considered relevant, appropriate, and responsive to beneficiary needs in the context of Cambodia by the external evaluation. That is, the intervention strategies were appropriate to prevent and respond to VAC in Cambodian schools. Specifically, the project adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions and challenges in 2021 by reviewing and adjusting the activities and outputs to using more remote delivery methods, such as online learning. Training material and curricula have been adjusted. Moreover, the project took place at a critical point in time when MoEYs and partners were working on the OMCPS in 2020.
Within this project, an evaluation report was conducted between April and June 2022 with 156 respondents (56% female) and found that there was evidence of beneficiaries’ improved awareness, specifically the knowledge and awareness regarding what behaviors constitute violence against children (VAC), as well as the reporting and response structures. Respondents noted the increase in VAC awareness and reporting responses in families and communities, with girls and students with disabilities showing greater awareness compared to their male peers. While the project had a very limited duration, less than two years, and for the larger part, schools were closed because of COVID-19, the evaluation reported a reduction in the % of students that were experiencing violence, from 40% to 31%. While this is an improvement, it is still alarmingly high and it highlights the need to further work to prevent and respond to VAC in schools.
This evaluation also revealed that the training around the familiarization of the finalized OMCPS and the context of VAC was successful. The project supported schools to develop and action school codes of conduct, clarify roles and responsibilities around VAC, and set up counseling rooms, as well as monitoring and accountability mechanisms. Government officials, school directors, teachers, student council, caregivers and parents, local authorities, and students all spoke about the importance of this OMCPS training. This training stands at the center of the project’s success.
Overall, this project has successfully supported the development, endorsement, and dissemination of the OMCPS, identified ways to strengthen VAC prevention and response at the school level and community level as well as the challenges with various activities, and showed some initial progress in shifting social norms and behaviour change despite the short project length.
“I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to all of our supporters, especially the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, and Safe to Learn Initiative. The project we are presenting was made possible by their generous support, and will have a long term impact not only for the children who benefitted from the project, but also from the lessons learned, which can be built on in future projects and policies,” said SCI Acting Country Director Ms. Bianca Collier.
"World Vision knows that it takes a whole village to protect children against violence. Our pilot project showed that when students, members of the Commune Committees for Women and Children, teachers and parents work together, they can make schools and communities the safe places all children deserve" says Vireak Leng, WVI-C' Operation Director.
“Violence against children, especially gender-based violence and bullying is a significant contributor to school dropouts, with girls more likely to experience psychological bullying, cyber-bullying, sexual violence, and harassment. This joint project empowered girls, boys, non-binary students, children with disabilities, and community-based child protection actors to speak up and take positive action against violence and abuse in schools so all can learn safely,” explained Plan International Cambodia Country Director Ms. Gwynneth Wong.
Background on the ENDVAC project:
The ENDVAC project falls under the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children (EVAC), which is a collective for evidence-based advocacy and action focusing solely on Sustainable Development Goal 16.2: ending all forms of violence against children by 2030. This project aimed to reduce violence against children by building, through the provision of evidence-based tools and approaches, a child-safe learning culture that was free from all forms of violence among all education stakeholders in Cambodia.
The project established a consortium of INGO partners convened by Save the Children International, with Plan International Cambodia and World Vision International-Cambodia as implementing partners. This consortium leveraged existing VAC collaborations and school-based partnerships in Siem Reap (Plan International Cambodia) and Preah Vihear (WVI-C) provinces. This project was implemented under the leadership of MoEYS, a technical committee, and the Leading and Coordinating Committee to support the rollout of the OMCPS. The project was conducted over 21 months between 1 Oct 2020 – 30 June 2022 (including a 6-month extension).