Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Unbroken: An Exhibition of Hope and Determination

(photovoice.org)

(photovoice.org)

Violence and harassment-violence and harassment is a form of discrimination in schools that affects children's performance, and that in many cases bars children altogether from being able to access schools. One form of violation and discrimination takes the form of caste-based discrimination. For example, untouchable children in India, if they study in schools, study in government schools that tend to be of an inferior quality. Children report physical abuse and harassment by upper class children, poor treatment by teachers, and being confined to sit in the back of the classroom. As a result, we see a huge gap in literacy rates between untouchables and the rest of the population in India, and also much higher drop-out rates in school. Similar effects of caste-based discrimination have been documented also in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Japan, where there was poor performance and higher dropout rates by lower caste. I also note that there is a picture of boys of different castes from Bhutan back in the exhibit, and I appreciate my colleague, Mr. Hari Acharya, highlighting the impact of discrimination in Bhutan as well. There are other forms of discrimination that take the form of violence and harassment against children. These include violence and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered children in American schools, and violence and harassment against girls in South African schools. Gender-based discrimination is important, and it's something that I assume that you are very familiar with. I think it's also important to note that the physical location of schools has a disparate impact on girls. I just returned from India where I was talking with children who are in an innovated night school run by the government to provide education for kids who are working all day. And one of the first questions I had was, "where are the girls?" This was a school of about 50 kids and there were about three girls there. And there were a variety of responses, including that the girls are embarrassed to show that they didn't know the alphabet in front of the boys. But when I interviewed the girls...the few that there were...what they said was, " I can only come here because my brother comes with me. The school meets at night, and otherwise I'm not able to come." The physical location of schools can have a direct impact on all children, but especially girls. We also documented this with the location of schools in the southern desert region of Israel, and how better [it is] when girls are often prevented from making the transition to high school because the distances are simply far enough that parents won't send their girls to school. A third form of gender-discrimination is certainly a total ban on girls attending school, as we have seen up until now in Afghanistan. Another form of discrimination that affects kid's ability to access schools is discrimination on the basis of national origin. And this can take the form of discrimination against refugees, migrant children, and also stateless children. One of the things that is often required to attend a school is legal documents. And we found that in the situation of Burmese refugees in Malaysia, who are not recognized as citizens of Burma but also not granted legal permission to be in Malaysia, that they were being thrown out of schools, or not allowed to enroll at all, simply because they didn't have the documents. And when I was there, parents brought me their children's birth certificates and said, "these are the documents that I have and my child has just sent home from the school and told not to come back because he doesn't have permission to be here." We also found the Bedouin children in Kuwait were not allowed to enroll in schools because they lacked legal status, even though citizens of the state received subsidized education and foreign workers who had legal status were at least able to enroll in private schools. And finally, you'll be hearing more about the situation of unaccompanied Moroccan children in Spain, where even though all children have the right to attend schools, that protest by parents against Moroccan children attending those schools, led to local officials not admitting children on the basis of national origin into their schools.