End Violence in Classrooms: Africa

Teacher Training In Africa: 
Because of Speak To Children's successful impact in Nepal,the International Resource Institute(ICRI) has invited my colleague, Giulietta Pezzaniti and I to Africa to further support their mission to end violence in the classroom against children. We aim to promote peaceful classrooms by training African teachers how to deliver Speak To Children's program to their students. ICRI is confident we will positively impact teachers and children in Ghana, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Giulietta will use an internal tool from eBay Inc., http://ebayinc.yourcause.com/GiuliettaPezzaniti/PublicView the tool matches employee donations in concert with GoFundMe, together we will raise $10,000.Your Funds will allow us to train over 200 teachers and reach over 6,000 children.

Our Schedule:
We depart for Africa on June 13, 2014.
Training teachers in Ghana begins on June 16 ending on June 19.
Teacher training begins on June 23 ending on June 25.
Teacher training begins on June 27 ending on June 30.

Training Format:
Step 1: Train teachers.
Step 2: Teachers will demonstrate the program to us.
Step 3: Observe teachers teaching the program to children in classrooms.
Step 4: We will also teach children the program to solidify the learning for teachers.

How Your donation Impacts Teachers and Children:
Our teacher trainings in Sub-Saharan Africa will provide new techniques for teachers.  Our teacher trainings will also maximize the potential of at risk children who will otherwise face abuse, neglect, exploitation, and repetition of the challenges of their parents. The end result will be peaceful classrooms for children to learn.

The Speak To Children Program will meet the following needs: 
a. Empower children to rise above their present conditions by becoming part of ICRI programs in their country and by developing, with assistance, a life and career plan, that will help them accomplish their full potential.
b. To provide trainers in the country the ability to replicate the work experience of Melanie Jones by implementing Speak To Children’s in a culturally appropriate manor.
c. To empower teachers to implement harmonious tools in the classroom. Children are being disciplined from the Colonial concepts utilizing corporal punishment.
Teachers in Africa are unaware of alternative ways to discipline children. The program will support teachers by supplying them with tools to cultivate a more harmonious classroom. When children are afraid, they are unable to concentrate and unable to learn. The program will shift and create classrooms in which children will be able to learn and teachers will have necessary tools to teach.

The Issue:
Violence against children in schools remains a widespread problem. Schools should be a safe place for quality learning, but instead of this, millions of children all over the world experience fear and violence every day that they go to school. Violence in schools is a massive problem, affecting millions of children in every country, every day. At present, 77 countries still allow teachers to punish children physically, and corporal punishment is widely used and accepted in schools – even in countries where the practice has been banned officially. Millions of children are exposed to physical assault at school. The most frequent victims of corporal punishment are boys, children with disabilities, and children from minority ethnic groups. While teachers’ reasons for beating children are often minor, the consequences are not – children have died because of the injuries inflicted by teachers. Although death may be rare, physical harm – such as broken limbs and cuts needing stitches – and most long term psychological harm are more common and their effects can last for days or years. And this violence impacts on educational attainment, diminishing the returns of education for every affected child. It causes non-attendance and school dropout, as well as a considerable financial drain on society. Children who experience violence at school are likely to earn less, be in greater need of healthcare and other services, and contribute less to their countries’ economies (www.learnwithoutfear.com). 

The Solution:
Teachers are recognized as critical partners in the campaign to eliminate violence against children in schools. The International Child Resource Institute and Speak To Children have developed a collaborative relationship to improve conditions for at risk and vulnerable children in countries traumatized by war, famine and economic privation each day. The program will supply teachers with the necessary tools to be effective and nurturing to children in their classrooms. New teacher behaviors will thus assist students in making life-changing choices.

The Partnership:
The International Child Resource Institute (ICRI) works to improve the lives of children and families around the world. It focuses on early childhood care and education, children’s rights, empowerment of women and girls, capacity building, maternal/child health, and grassroots community development. ICRI’s credo is “we only go where we are invited,” and all of its programs advance local leadership and promote community collaboration. Since ICRI was founded in 1981, it has developed or operated more than 300 programs in more than 50 countries, all with the goal of empowering the village to raise children. ICRI, in its work around the world, has often been invited to work to transform educational institutions serving traumatized and challenged children. ICRI is excited to continue to collaborate with Melanie Jones, the Founder of Speak to Children, a non-profit organization specializing in teaching youth and training educators in character development.
Melanie and volunteer Giulietta will focus on training teachers in Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. There is an especially high need in these areas for shifting education toward being more child-centered, and also for removing violence and corporal punishment from education.
Melanie has worked extensively to integrate her program into education and devoted years to serving as a visiting teacher, teaching the lessons in schools and associations, as well as training teachers and parents. She believes that fostering self-awareness in educators and youth with Speak To Children’s program create leaders who bring positive social change and influence society in a constantly changing global world. The lessons in the Speak To Children curriculum are based on six core ethical values that address the student on the intellectual and emotional level. The lessons are centered on topics such as appreciation, sharing, self-esteem, celebrating differences, making choices and having a conscience. Melanie shows children how they will benefit from integrating the six values into their behavior. She does this by helping them understand how it feels when embedding the content into their behavior. Melanie has a saying, “first into their minds, then their hearts and then their behavior.” She believes it is crucial to involve children in their learning otherwise there is no ownership. “Tell me I forget, teach me I remember, involve me and I learn,”(Benjamin Franklin).The program affects and shifts the classroom's culture, to a harmonious environment, allowing teachers to teach and students learn. The program commits to tracking, following up, and reporting of results to provide tangible evidence of the impact the program has on the lives of the children, the schools, and the communities served.

Our Impact and Promise:
Educational environments must be safe, healthy and protective, endowed with trained teachers, adequate resources and appropriate physical, emotional and social conditions for learning. Within them, children’s rights must be protected and their voices must be heard. Learning environments must be a haven for children to learn and grow, with innate respect for their identities and varied needs. Speak To Children’s program promotes inclusiveness, gender-sensitivity, tolerance, dignity and personal empowerment.

Speak To Children will raise consciousness by training educators worldwide. Various human rights organizations have been formed to raise self-awareness and Speak To Children is helping in the fight for safe and peaceful classrooms. While this is a challenge, challenges are great opportunities. We can all take part in making a difference for children. Without the Speak To Children project children would remain with very low self-esteem; vulnerable to exploration and conditions, which they are bound to repeat. In addition Speak To Children’s program promotes and creates environments conducive for teachers to teach and students to learn. Every child has the right to a safe school environment. The partnership between ICRI and Speak To Children aims to end violence against children in all schools. Children deserve to go to school in safety and expect a quality learning experience without fear or threats of violence.

With gratitude,

Melanie and Giulietta
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Melanie Catherine Jones 
San Francisco, CA