We know that changing cultural norms is no easy task. While more than three-fourths of survey respondents in our impact assessment said they thought trafficking in Winneba has declined in the last five years, we know that it is still happening. One of the bigger cultural norms that we are looking to change is the use of corporal punishment in schools.
The good news is that the use of corporal punishment in schools has already been outlawed by the government and earlier this year the Ghana Education Service has said that they will not support or protect teachers who use it. These are some big steps forward in protecting children’s right to be free from violence. However, just because something is a policy doesn’t mean that it is always followed.
Over the past school year, our Advocacy Officer Akua Boatemaa Duah has been working the the teachers at Friends International Academy (formerly Challenging Heights School) to help strengthen their understanding and implementation of the anti-corporal punishment policy there. In the recent weeks she’s taken her message and workshop beyond our sister organisations and to teachers from other schools in Winneba and from across Ghana.
Modifying the workshop that she participated in that was hosted by UNICEF, Akua uses a participatory and Socratic method so that the participants can come to their own conclusion of what constitutes a safe school and how they can make their own schools safer.
Many of the teachers are hesitant at first to rethink their own positions but in the words of one of the workshop participants, “I remembered what it was like when I was getting caned as a student – how it didn’t change my behaviour and only made me resent my teacher. This can completely changed my mind.”
We’re excited about this work and looking forward to how it goes in the future. If you think your community in Ghana might benefit from our workshop, let us know by sending us an email.