In 1991 the Organisation of the African Union instituted the Day of the African Child (DAC) to be commemorated on the 16th of June in memory of the Soweto uprising and to recognise the courage of students who were marching for their right to access quality education. In 2020, we continue to take on the mantle to provide opportunities for young people to attain improved education outcomes through the implementation of our programs. Our Teaching at the Right Level program offers remedial education in primary schools which catches up students who are falling behind in numeracy and literacy. Our health program, Zones, empowers girls with strategies to make healthy relationship choices to reduce HIV infections.
To discuss the actions that Young 1ove has taken to ensure that we create a safe learning environment for young people, we had a coffee session with our Senior Manager of Country Operations, Ms. Lebogang Mothibatsela.
The theme of Day of the African child this year was ‘Access to a child-friendly justice system in Africa’. What does that mean to Young 1ove?
As an organisation that exists for the betterment and development of youth, this theme means that we are a proactive, dedicated, and ethical defender of the dignity and rights of children. We actively address injustices that youth may face by leveraging our role in society to advocate for policies, practices, and behaviours that protect children. This includes participation in various Technical Working Groups and coalitions that aim to protect and advance the rights of children locally, regionally, and globally.
What role does the organisation have in ensuring that children are safe in schools that we implement our programs in?
As part of our hiring processes, applicants undergo relevant vetting and background checks, with a specific focus on their suitability for working with children. Young 1ove is, as outlined in our Child Protection Policy, "committed to protect children and other vulnerable members of the community from harm and abuse." We ensure that the work we do puts the wellbeing of the child first. Whether it is in a curriculum design meeting or discussion about changing our programmes to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, our programmes and engagements are child-centred. Our training and implementation models emphasize that every child can, creating an environment in which children feel can be honest, question, share, and learn without fear.
What systems does the organization use to ensure that policies are adhered to by the staff?
Young 1ove has a comprehensive Child Protection Policy that all staff, partners, and other stakeholders must adhere to. The policy provides avenues for team members and stakeholders to report any concerns, suspicions, incidents or allegations of actual or potential child abuse to a Designated Officer required to investigate and report on the matter. Prior to our partners joining us in the field, they are required to sign our Stakeholder Field Policy which prohibits certain interactions with the child including photography. Our policies for child protection are in line with the Botswana Children’s Act, the Penal Code, the National Youth Policy, and other laws that speak to the child.
What advice would you give to organizations that work with children to ensure that they put the child's safety first?
Develop or adopt a Child Protection or Safety Policy that ensures that the children are protected. Engage the relevant social and/or legal services for advice on what the policy should entail and what dangers are particularly faced by the children you intend on working with. Ensure that all of your staff, volunteers, and other key stakeholders understand and agree to comply with it before any of them can work with or engage children. Proactively check that decisions or plans you make do not put children in danger or increase their vulnerability.
Young 1ove organization will remain committed to continue safeguarding the young people who we deliver our programs to, through our well thought out policies and programs which put the youth first. Our call to our partners and organisations that work with children is to safeguard the child and their rights.
Follow us on our social media handles and engage with us in discussions on how to create safe educational environments for children.