All Together Against Violence Toward Children in Schools and Families
"All Together Against Violence Toward Children in Schools and Families" was a comprehensive project that was implemented through the period of 15 March – 15 October 2011 in three primary and secondary schools in Elbasan and Librazhd Districts with the financial support of Austrian Development Co-operation in Albania.
The project goal was: to foster respect for children, their rights and dignity among teachers, school administrators, parents and children themselves and to improve relationships and co-operation among them in three schools of Elbasan and Librazhd Districts.
The two main objectives of the project were: 1) To increase awareness and understanding of children’s rights and responsibilities deriving from them among teachers, school administrators, parents as well as children, 2) To reduce physical and psychological abuse of children in school and family and create a friendly environment
The main project activities that were successfully implemented during the project and contributed to the achievement of the objectives and overall goal were as follows:
Designing, preparation and publication of posters and leaflets on child rights and fight against violence toward children in school and family. Their designing and content was prepared by CAF experts and they were distributed free of charge in schools, families and communities during the trainings and workshops in order to facilitate the awareness-raising process.
Three awareness-raising meetings were organized in the three target schools to inform all the beneficiaries and stakeholders about the main elements of the project and the importance of their active involvement.
School-based workshops: Three school-based workshops were organized with about 140 teachers, school administrators, parents and children in order to raise awareness about the project and the importance of their active involvement in its successful implementation. The workshop was mainly focused on children’s rights and the responsibilities that derive from them; violence in schools and families and effective techniques of communication and problem solving with children, which improve mutual understanding, and relationships, hence avoid and reduce violence and create a more friendly school and family environment.
Training of teachers and school administrators: Three one-day school-based training courses were organized by CAF experts with 75 teachers and school administrators of the target schools and representatives from the respective Regional Directorates of Education in April and May 2011.
The training was mainly focused on: • Effective techniques of communication and co-operation with children • Negative effects of children’s punishment and of various types of abuse • Alternatives to punishment • Dealing with “problematic children or children “locked in a role” • Effective techniques of solving problems together with the children in school, • Effective techniques that engage children’s creativity and commitment
The three trainings were organized through a participatory approach, which encouraged an active participation of all the participants. A Power Point presentation by CAF experts was accompanied by free discussions, pair- and group work, case studies, analysis and presentations as well as role-plays.
Furthermore, in order to strengthen understanding of the new theoretical concepts and facilitate their application in the every-day work, they were illustrated with practical examples, which were provided through a comprehensive training package.
The trainings received high notes of appreciation during the evaluation session by all the participating teachers. “We have received various trainings, but this is very special and so closely related to our needs and interests”, said a teacher of Elbasani school. “We have to admit that we have punished and insulted our students many times, because we didn’t know how to deal with certain behavior or other problems, whereas now we have learned such practical techniques of communication, co-operation and problem-solving that will facilitate and improve our work and relationships with them”, said another participating teacher. “While listening to you and going through the practical examples, I recalled many cases when I could have effectively used some of the techniques without having to shout or send a student out of the classroom”, said another teacher. “We would recommend to extend this training to other teachers, school psychologists and parents”, said other participants at the end of the training.
Training of parents: In order to expand the project impact and improve the situation in families as well as in school, three one-day training courses were organized with 103 parents, some of whom were members of the school parent councils and of the school board, what gave them the opportunity to talk to many more parents and share the new knowledge and skills with them in other meetings.
Some of the main topics of the training were: • Effective techniques of communication with children • Negative effects of children’s punishment and various types of abuse • Alternatives to punishment • Helping children deal with their feelings • Effective techniques of solving problems together with children at home,
Through oral and written evaluation, all the parents expressed their appreciation and emphasized the importance of the training to the improvement of their communication, co-operation and relationships with their children. They also expressed a better understanding of their important role in the education and development of their children and of the need to avoid any form of violence in family, school and community environments.
Workshop with school children: Three one-day school-based workshops were organized by CAF representatives with 130 students. Taking into consideration that, besides the physical and psychological abuse of children by teachers and parents, in many cases there is violence among children themselves as well, it was deemed necessary that they understood not only their own rights and responsibilities, but also effective ways of dealing with various problems and conflicts.
Organization of a class- and school-based campaign called “There is no room for violence in our school”: The campaign included class-based and school-based meetings and discussions, group work and various activities. The students together with their teachers came out with their own slogans against violence, posters and drawings, which were displayed on the classroom and school walls as an exhibition. In order to facilitate the children’s work with the campaign, each of the schools was provided with supporting arts materials. Some of the messages conveyed by students through the campaign were: “For a world full of kindness, peace and love”, “Stop violence, give love”, “We want a world without violence”, “Violence kills”, “Violence sows hatred”, “Let us live in peace, not threaten it”, “Let us respect and help each-other”.
Children’s exchange workshop: A Children’s exchange workshop was organized with 53 students and five teachers from the three target schools, which gave them the opportunity to talk about their progress with the project activities and especially with the children led campaign in each school as well as come out with specific plans of activities for the remaining period of the campaign. Presentations, discussions, games and group work encouraged and ensured an active involvement of all the participants.
Follow-up and monitoring activities: In order to monitor the level of application of new theoretical concepts and techniques, support the teachers, parents and children with advice, additional information and recommendations as well as monitor and measure the project progress toward its objectives and goal, CAF representatives organized frequent follow-up visits and activities in each school. “Your frequent visits and continuous support have helped us tremendously to improve our work with students and progress with the project activities”, said a school teacher.
Exchange workshop: In order to give the three target schools the opportunity to share information, experience and lessons learned as well as strengthen their network of co-operation, an exchange workshop was organized in October with 43 teachers, school administrators, parents, students, school board members, community leaders and other actors. They were given the possibility to talk about their progress with the new techniques of communication, promotion of children’s rights and fight against violence in school, family and community environments as well as share difficulties and success achieved. “The situation in our school has changed a lot”, said a secondary school student of Polis School. “Teachers are more careful when talking to students, listen to us more attentively and seem to be more sensitive to our needs and concerns”. “Students, on the other hand, “ said a teacher of Polis School, “are more co-operative with us and with each-other”. “It was the first time that our school was included in a CAF project with students, teachers, school administrators and parents and we highly appreciated the frequent visits, valuable feedback and recommendations provided by the project staff throughout the project life”, said the vice-director of Elbasani school. “We have seen a big change in the communication between teachers and students and are very happy that there is a bigger understanding between us”, said the president of the student government of Skroska School. “Parents, on the other hand are more careful and more supportive. They are more interested in our school work and activities”.
In addition, personal, family, class and school stories were presented and new ideas and plans were developed for future actions. “I have changed a lot after the training that we received”, said one of the teachers of Skroska School. “While before I thought that shouting at students would make them listen quietly, now I am more careful with the words I use and the tone of my voice”. “This year, I am totally different”, said an eighth-grade student of Skroska School. I did believe that violence was the only way to solve problems with others, whereas now I am aware of its negative effects and I am more careful in school and family”. “The story that I will tell you talks about the project impact, said a fourth-year student of Polis School. “One little boy in Polis community saw two men quarrelling with each other. Got close to them and said: ‘Haven’t you heard about the project against violence in school and community?’ They looked at each other, stopped shouting and left without a word”. “Before, I used to shout at my children and even hit them when they made mistakes or misbehaved, whereas now I know that children do not need punishment in order to behave, they need respect and understanding instead”, said a parent of four children in Polis community.
Presentations and discussions were associated with the display of photos taken during the campaign and other project activities. At the end of the workshops, each and every participant expressed their high appreciation about the project and its positive impact on their school, family and community life.