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National Policy Dialogue..........

Loo Niva organized a National Policy Dialogue on Child Safety in School on 22nd Feb 2017 at Hotel Himalaya, Kupondole with wider participation of DEOs Lalitpur, Resource Persons, educationists, I/NGOs and Government sector working with children, education , journalists and Head teachers of the school from seven South Lalitpur VDCs where Child Safety study was done . The program was chaired by Shiva Prasad Uprety, Deputy Director of Department of Education. Milan Dharel, Child Rights activist moderated the session. The key presentations from three different agencies were done. The child perspective from the grassroots, the study report was presented by Loo Niva Executive Director Mr. Narendra Dangol; the Ministry of Education spokesperson, Dr. Hari Lamsal presented about the Nepal Government existing policy and practices in child safety; and Mr. Gauri Pradhan, Child Rights activist and International coordinator of Least Development Countries (LDCs) presented from child and human rights perspective with way forward. The other guest speakers included Tarak Dhital, Executive Director of Central Child Welfare Board and Lila Bashyal, Country Director of Finn Church Aid, Nepal. Later open floor discussion was held for interaction and dialogue from the participants for the key points to be noted and suggestions. The policy dialogue has bridged the voices to and fro from the community and the policy level for the child safety in School. Ministry Spokesperson highlighted there is enough good policy but need willingness to implement from all government, civil society, schools, community sectors together. He emphasized safety is not only about just physical safety but need to change our understanding and act upon the non-infrastructural safety more. He mentioned the small incidents response mechanism, more positive disciplinary approach, self-discipline in school and community will have large impact. The policy are scattered, contradict so needs integrated approach implementation in policy at different sectorial ministries. He further emphasized more interaction between child rights agencies, local government and education ministry. Also there need to strengthen School Management Committee for developing school level child safety policy. He raised hope that we are in right direction and need more fast pace action and way forward at central, district level and community. Mr. Gauri Pradhan said Child Rights has been established as Human Rights but still there are many problems. There are three challenges namely emergencies like natural disasters; behaviors towards children in school like corporal punishments, violence, discrimination bullying ; and unintentional injuries (90%) like road safety, drowning, burns, falls, poisoning and not just limited to school. We should reflect our own behaviors and misuse of authority. There needs creative practice for disciplining making realize children their duties like gardening, serving to juniors etc. It’s high time for joint efforts from all concerned to practice monitoring in these times of school reconstruction and policy implementation monitoring at different levels along with such policy dialogues. Mr. Narendra shared Loo Niva Child Safety Study on the children’s perspective on the safety situation in their community and schools conducted in post-earthquake situation in selected rural area of south Lalitpur. The study finds how children have perceived the safety issues and what their current practices for safety are. It shows the children view, children audit done by themselves. The 299 children directly participated in the study with participatory tools. The findings from South Lalitpur resonate with the remote hill children specifically and national problems related with all children in general. There is interesting finding of how and why the children feel safe and unsafe in the school premises and practices, community, and family. There raise huge question are the policies and laws implemented well? The study also explores the safety strategy suggested by the children themselves. They have followed their own strategy but are they good? For example, hiding information form teachers and parents, girls avoid drinking water to not go to toilet, avoiding school for risky and long road etc. The finding of the study is attached. The chairperson Mr. Upreti closed the program with remarks that child is of everyone and should be at the centre and no fragmentation in work. The resources put in common funds and should work together as in disaster response time. The small acts like Vulnerability Capacity Assessment (VCA), comprehensive school counseling model (currently piloting in two districts) need to be done by all schools and go long way in safety. The floor discussion and program suggested further steps to be taken: 1. Policy follow-up workshop with DCWB, ministries of children and women, education and health. 2. Campaign on Child safety issue in the upcoming local election. 3. National Child Safety Working Group among concerned stakeholders and agencies