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Hirdesh inaugurates 2- day Consultative Workshop on ‘School Safety’ under Samagra Shiksha

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JAMMU, MARCH 11: Two day Consultative meet on “Risk Informed Education and School Safety in Jammu & Kashmir” organized by Directorate of Samagra Shiksha in association with UNICEF INDIA commenced here today with its formal inauguration by Commissioner Secretary School Education, Hirdesh Kumar.

The objective of this workshop was to review the work done on School Safety till date and prepare a roadmap for Risk Informed Programming in Education/School Safety for Jammu & Kashmir.

Senior officers from Department of School Education, academicians, experts working in the field of School Safety and Education besides NGOs participated in the programme.

Pertinently, UNICEF has previously been working on this issue and has done groundbreaking work on School Safety in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hirdesh Kumar during his inaugural remarks said that School Safety is a key concern of the Government and need to be addressed as a top priority. He added that School Safety and School Security go hand in hand as an integral aspect of education sector planning. Therefore, Child Protection plays an important role in ensuring the safety and security of children, whether at home or in schools, he said adding that Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) devastates a victim for lifetime. According to Ministry of Women and Child Development estimate, 53% of children have faced Child Sexual Abuse in their lives, he added.

Hirdesh stressed that School Safety is of paramount importance in a region like Jammu & Kashmir which is a high-risk Union Territory especially with regard to various natural calamities, civil unrest and this impacts the education of children the most. Hence, it is upon the School Education Department to take this initiative for School Safety, he added. He urged upon the participants to come up with a comprehensive and workable roadmap for School Safety as an outcome of this Meet which can be implemented in all the government schools of J&K. Later, Commissioner Secretary unveiled posters on ‘School Safety’ to be provided to Schools.

Experts from UNICEF, Danish Aziz conducted technical sessions and apprised the audience that MHRD had issued the National School Safety Guidelines drafted by NDMA 2016 with instructions to follow them as a framework in 2017. The School Education Department can play a vital role in expanding children’s awareness and knowledge about risk and resilience issues while aiming to address the key priority of Child Safety and security in Schools and beyond.

Director School Education, Anuradha Gupta, who was also present during the programme, reiterated that School Safety is not only about concepts of disaster and emergencies, it also encompasses issues of child protection- such as bullying, corporal punishment, online safety and so on. She further told that Directorate of School Education has already taken several steps for the said concern under its Counselling Cell.

Later, Dr. Arun Manhas, State Project Director, Samagra Shiksha told that it’s a fact that children spend a considerable amount of their time in school and are exposed to risks of abuse, violence, disasters, health concerns and other forms of risks to their safety that arise from the location of the school. He further added that girls, children with special needs and those from marginalized communities are the most vulnerable of them all. It is important for the school to provide a safe and protected learning environment to children.

Among others present in the workshop were Dr. Farooq Peer, Director Academics, JKBOSE, representatives of prominent NGOs like Save the Children and PRATHAM etc, Senior Technical Experts from UNICEF INDIA besides officials from ICPS and School Education Department.

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