Safe to Learn – Blossom Project
The Blossom project is based on the evidence generated from the Mercy Corps’ Supporting the Education of Marginalized Girls in Kailali (STEM) project, which is funded by DFID under the Girls’ Education Challenge. The project with its proven tools and approaches has been able support girls in Kailali for significant improvements in literacy and numeracy results, reduced Household chores and increase their involvement in their activities outside home and schools. Similarly Mercy Corps’ approach to safeguarding at schools and communities has been tested and refined based on evidence and learning from STEM I and II project which has demonstrates that involvement of students and parents are key to sustain child safeguarding mechanism at schools and community.
The project Blossom will be implemented in the districts of Kailali and Kanchanpur, Sudurpaschim province in the Far-West region. The project will work with 70 schools in Kailali and Kanchanpur provinces to foster a safe and supportive educational environment for children to promote more effective learning outcomes. By the end of the project, all 70 schools will have safeguarding policies and mechanisms in place, ensuring that 24,500 children are able to learn and thrive in a fear-free school environment, of which 11,200 students will have increased confidence and skills to safeguard their rights within their schools and communities. The Project will continue its activities in the same 30 schools of STEM II project and 40 additional schools from Kailali and Kanchanpur districts.
The proposed project utilizes the following tools/approaches established under STEM:
- School Leadership Training: The Blossom Project will work with head teachers to develop written policy on keeping children safe within their respective schools using the minimum standards from the Keeping Children Safe Coalition.
- Teacher training: Blossom will also adopt STEM’s teacher training curriculum to improve teachers’ skills in inclusive education principles and positive classroom management techniques.
- Student Life Clubs (SLCs), including life skills training: Blossom will conduct Student Life Clubs for both boys and girls which will be tailored based on their education, life skill and adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) needs. The components of the life skills training include “Sakcham Chori” (Empowering Sisters) which includes self-assertiveness training and ASRH to help girls understand reproductive health as well as personal boundaries.
- Voice Boxes feedback mechanism: Blossom will adopt STEM’s “Voice Boxes” so students can express their concerns related to their schools. The feedback allows us to adapt our activities to better meet students’ needs, and identify and address any protection and safeguarding concerns.
- Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs): The proposed project will establish PTAs in new geographical areas to create creating a closer relationship between households and schools to promote the welfare of children in the home, at school and in the community.
- Community Campaigns: The project will organize community wide campaigns so that the larger community understands their role in child protection. Activities will include street dramas and school fairs that will raise awareness of protection issues facing young people and reinforce key practices for keeping children safe. Television and radio talk shows and carefully scripted serial dramas will be aired. These shows will be relevant and engaging for all audiences, tackling challenging protection issues and create conversations for positive social change.
Strengthen and develop school systems
- Complaint management mechanism
- Capacity building of SMC PTA
- Support in Integrated School Improvement plan
- Small grant support to schools
- Support for schools re-opening (information, advisory and guidance- IAG day)
Enhance students’ empowerment
- Student life clubs
- Saksham Chhori ( Self Defense) training
- Extra- curricular activities
- Schools to community activities through youth champion
Increase community engagement
- Advocacy campaigns
- Students to community
- Radio and Social media mobilization
- Support local government to prepare policies, strategies around child protection