Action and Advocacy For Children
Action and Advocacy For Children
All children in Uganda enjoying their rights, being protected and cared for and having equal opportunities to realize their full potential.
To end violence against children in Uganda through capacity building, advocacy, psycho-social and legal support.
1- To increase awareness on the negative effects of sexual violence and influence change on related policies.
2- To protect children and increase community response to any harmful forms of violence against children.
3- To increase psycho social and legal support for children.
4- Increase enrollment, retention and achieved learning outcomes of children in schools.
5- Reduced number of children especially girls getting married before the age of 18.
Power comes from Knowledge and Access. Our holistic and multi-faceted programs give women & families the awareness, the information, and the ability to be self-sufficient & empowered thru life & business skills training, micro seed capital & finance, & direct disbursement of livestock & educational support
As civil rights champion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently said “The ultimate weakness of Violence is that it is a Descending Spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, Returning Violence for Violence multiplies Violence, adding deeper Darkness to a Night already devoid of Stars.” There is no question about the absolute primacy of a society based on Peace, thus we strive to promote peaceful solutions in schools & communities where physical and sexual violence are all too widely accepted and commonplace.
WE BELIEVE THAT CHANGING LONG HELD SOCIETAL PRACTICES & TRADITIONS REQUIRES A UNIQUE APPROACH
WE BELIEVE THAT CHANGING LONG HELD SOCIETAL PRACTICES & TRADITIONS REQUIRES A UNIQUE APPROACH
Close & compassionate listening to individuals & communities who know best what they need
Community Engagement & Building Trust
Dialogue with key Constituents & Influencers on the issue
Well-conceived Action Plans
Buy-in from Leaders at every level from the Community thru to District, National, & International levels
Coalition building around the Issue that is Inclusive & Diverse
Well-organized Training of Teams that will carry the Mission Forward & Train others
Use of multiple Media formats to assist in Communicating the Message
Continuous Monitoring & Dialogue with Teams, Leaders, Influencers, and Communities for Evaluation of Effectiveness
Research into the Issues and Actions that provide Data & Accounts to reveal the true nature of Progress
Always continuing the Dialogue across all Levels to Understand Progress
Flexibility to Adapt to changing Conditions as they Arise
Persistence in Focusing the Mission & Executing the Action Plan
Our Success lies in Our Partnerships ~ whether we implement multi-tasked actions as part of a large-scale targeted social impact Plan run by an international development organization, join forces with other national Civil Society organizations to affect outcomes in Ugandan society, or collaborate on our own self-designed Programs with individuals and groups who wish to lift up lives, we welcome all challenges in a spirit of Cooperation ~ and Achievement.
From work directly with communities in Uganda to advocacy at the international level, Joy for Children acts as a Bridge providing project implementation & services for international organizations who require local knowledge & expertise from a trusted Partner who also understands & works in the global development arena.
Our Ugandan staff know well local customs, traditions, and cultures and how to successfully navigate them ~ and they are at ease in front of the media & at international conferences. We maintain excellent relationships with a cross-section of Ugandan civil society & government. Years of engaging & building communities has taught us the power of inclusivity & the strength of diversity to build effective coalitions.
We also have a rich history of creating our own Projects that rely on innovative approaches to solving long-standing, entrenched social & economic problems. We believe that problems are best solved with compassionate listening to those directly living the issues, and in building action-oriented partnerships based on trust and mutual cooperation to achieve new goals.
As an organization we have served as leaders on a number of societal issues that impact the children, and relish a challenge to change out-dated paradigms & usher in new ways that benefit & elevate all.
We are proud of our strong work ethic, our compassionate dedication to children & communities, and our “can-do” spirit. We deliver high quality work in an efficient and well-organized manner that is effective ~ and results oriented. Our guiding principles are honesty, transparency, and service.
We welcome your Partnership ~ whether it is to fulfill your Project needs or to Support us in our own uniquely designed Programs – together as One we can Create Change for the Better.
POST CSW MEETING
During the post Commission on the Status of Women meeting as a debrief and feedback platform to discuss the outcomes from the 62nd session by different partners, agreed discussions by Joy for Children were around strengthening normative, legal and policy frameworks, implementing economic and social policies for the empowerment of rural women and girls and strengthening the collective voice, leadership and decision making. One of the ways of achieving this is through the use of mainstream media, social media and ICT in empowerment of women and girls.
"Journalists want to be taken to the field to interface with the actual problem on ground and talk to the victims to get first hand information instead of inviting them to conferences in hotels. That is when they are able to write powerful stories," Moses Ntenga noted during the meeting.
The post CSW meeting was organised by Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) and Oxfam at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala.
In Uganda, teachers usually keep their huge classes calm by corporal punishment. If enough teachers and teaching assistants are available, one of them stands in front of the class and gives the lesson, and one or two others walk around with canes, ready to punish pupils who talk or seem not to listen. Joy for Children (JFC), a non-governmental organisation, wants them to change disciplining methods.
It’s noisy and stuffy in the classroom. About 200 girls and boys have gathered in one room to meet the social workers from Joy for Children. Every second Friday, children in Kivulu Primary School (name changed) in Kampala are taught about their rights. The method used is new to them: participatory teaching. Usually, Ugandan teachers just stand in front of the class, and the kids have to repeat what he or she says. But the social workers of JFC prefer group work and encourage pupils to ask questions. It is not easy to handle such big numbers, but the pupils are very excited about the new topic and eager to participate in the lessons.
Kivulu Primary School is located in one of Kampala’s slum areas. The school ground is dusty, the buildings are basic but decorated with colourful paintings. Like most of the schools in Uganda, the school management is struggling to maintain the institution with the scant funds they receive. Teachers are paid not more than 300,000 Ugandan Shillings per month (the equivalent of about € 80). It is obviously not easy to be a motivated teacher when you have to worry about how to feed your own children.
Nonetheless, some teachers are willing to take new approaches to teaching and disciplinary measures. The head teacher of Kivulu Primary School is one of them. He and several other colleagues are happy to cooperate with the social workers from JFC. He wants his team to be inspired to give “positive” disciplining methods a try.
Every youth in Uganda has his or her own story to tell about corporal punishment. One kid says: “I was a very stubborn child and didn’t even care when the teachers caned me. One day I was caned so badly I could not stand straight anymore.” “Stubborn” is a common expression in Uganda to describe a child who does not obey. Another youth remembers: “I was so afraid of the teacher’s stick, I just kept quiet in class, and I was never caned during my time in primary school.” The proverb “spare the rod, spoil the child” is often referred to in Uganda to give an explanation why children have to be beaten.
While in Uganda corporal punishment is still lawful in the home, a new law was passed in 2016 which prohibits corporal punishment in schools. It clearly states that every child has a right to be protected against all forms of violence including physical and emotional abuse. This is not the first legislative initiative to address violence against children in schools. In August 2015, the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports issued a “Ban on all acts of violence against children in schools, institutes and colleges”. It stated that violence in schools was outlawed by the Constitution, the Children Act, the Penal Code, the Domestic Violence Act and the Employment Act. It demanded that schools should review their rules and regulations to replace corporal punishment with positive learning sanctions or actions.
However, the major challenge in Uganda is not a lack of laws and policies. Weak implementation is the core problem. Many teachers, especially in rural areas, are not even aware that they are breaking the law when they beat a child. Others have heard about such legislation, but they know that no one will arrest them for caning pupils. The children themselves typically do not know about their rights. That’s why civil-society organisations closely collaborate with schools to teach children about their rights and offer trainings for teachers as well.
At first, students in Uganda appear to be very shy. It seems difficult to get them to share their views. They are simply not used to adults being interested in what they think. But as soon as they realise that it is allowed to ask questions and nobody will punish them or laugh when they share their ideas, it is amazing how active these formerly intimidated children become. And their thoughts are often very interesting. In Kivulu Primary School, corporal punishment was obviously applied on such a regular basis that it became normal to pupils, and they did not even consider it as something wrong or frightening.
Nonetheless, they fast came up with various ideas for alternative disciplining methods like writing an apology letter or doing physical work. However, some pupils preferred being caned to alternatives like cleaning toilets. Considering the condition of the school toilets, that is not surprising. One wonders, however, whether corporal punishment serves its purpose if pupils do not care much about being caned anymore.
Listening and talking to pupils is very important, but training teachers is necessary as well. The teachers of Kivulu Primary School welcome the initiative of Joy for Children. Most of them admitted that they applied corporal punishment regularly, but some of them simply did not know which alternative methods to use. However, some teachers are unwilling to change their methods. They are convinced that caning is necessary to instil discipline in children, and they are afraid that they will not be able to handle their huge classes of 100 children and more without their stick.
Having collaborated with more than 80 schools, social workers from JFC have gained rich experience in introducing positive discipline in schools. While most of the pupils enthusiastically embrace the idea of a “violent-free school”, some teachers complain that pupils threaten them with the police if they continue with caning, and especially the older pupils became arrogant. Teachers feel disempowered. Yet, abolishing corporal punishment does not mean that there won’t be any consequences for misbehaviour at all. Child rights constitute only one side of the coin, responsibilities are their counterpart. The social workers emphasise the importance of explaining to children what is wrong and why. Rather than caning pupils whenever they open their mouth or perform badly in exams, it is better to teach them how to improve.
For many pupils it is harder to write the lines of an apology letter than bearing the stick for a few minutes – but they actually learn something, including how to write properly. This is meant by “positive discipline”. Another way of involving pupils in learning and at the same time increasing their participation in decision-making processes is the establishment of so called pupils’ committees. These committees consist of children who have been selected by teachers and fellow pupils. They act as children’s courts deciding how to deal with pupils who continuously misbehave. In each of the schools JFC is working with, such committees have been founded, but of course their success depends on the level of support given by teachers.
It is nice to see how schools change when pupils are aware of their rights and teachers are willing to adopt new methods. An evaluation conducted by JFC showed that the relationship between pupils and teachers significantly improves. Trusting teachers is particularly important for vulnerable children who are more likely to drop out of school, even before completing primary education. Amongst other measures like introducing counselling and guidance, the replacing of corporal punishment by positive discipline has contributed to decreased dropout rates in the schools JFC is collaborating with.
However, there still is a long way to go until the new law will be fully implemented. And it is insufficient to prohibit corporal punishment in schools only. Some teachers complain that as long as children are still beaten by their parents, things will never change. At home, parents face the same challenges teachers do in school – in families with up to 13 children it is hard to establish a strong bond to each child, explaining always why certain rules are necessary. When parents are overwhelmed, beating seems to be the easier way. With a fertility rate of 5.8 in 2016 (CIA World Factbook), Uganda has one of the highest population growth rates worldwide.
Nonetheless, positive changes are taking place in a visible manner. To enhance progress, it will be important both to maintain the momentum and to strengthen the efforts aimed at ending corporal punishment in schools and homes. More positive role models such as the above mentioned head teacher is what Uganda’s schools need. Inspiring others by demonstrating them the positive effects of alternative disciplining methods can have a tangible impact.
Moses Ntenga is the executive director of the NGO Joy for Children Uganda in Kampala.
Angelina Henrich is a social worker who volunteers at Joy for Children Uganda.
Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children:
This story was first published on https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/uganda-non-governmental-organisation-wants-convince-school-teachers-not-punishing-pupils