The Program “Ma’an (Together) towards a Safe School Environment” to reduce violence against children in schools
In 2009, UNICEF launched a large-scale campaign in Jordan titled “Ma’an (Together) Towards a Safe School Environment” which aimed at promoting modern discipline methods and mobilizing support to end society’s tolerance for violence in schools. The campaign, launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and other relevant ministries, the Office of HM Queen Rania Al Abdullah, NGOs and the (UNRWA), received major media coverage on a large national scale. The campaign objectives were focused on reducing the number of children exposed to physical and verbal violence in schools and promoting the use of alternative positive methods by the year 2014. The evaluation of the campaign revealed a 28% decline in the rate of physical violence, which is close to the 30% envisaged target, and also showed a decrease in verbal violence by 15%, which is quite significant. Based on the evaluation results, the Ministry of Education has revised the Ma’an campaign by adding new areas of interest to the program resulting in an initiative to reduce student-against-teacher violence and family violence.
Although the “Ma’an Campaign” has succeeded in reducing violence in schools and has managed to place this issue at the forefront of the national dialogue, the widespread cultural acceptance of corporal punishment and the use of violence in schools and homes remains a major challenge. In light of this, UNICEF is working with its partner organizations to expand the Campaign outside schools to address physical violence directed against children not only by their teachers, but by anyone and anywhere. In short, the goal is to address the problem holistically and to broaden the focus from schools to include violence against children in all settings.
Building on the lessons and success learned from the Ma’an Campaign, the “Allem_La_Tallem” Plan (Changing Norms and Behaviours to End Violence against Children) intends to broaden its scope and intensify its efforts in order to enable people – especially vulnerable groups – to participate in making their own life-improving decisions by employing a variety of communication approaches. To do so, the plan seeks to capitalize on the national efforts exerted in the field of child protection.