Helping Teachers to Keep their Students Safe

By training teachers how to pass on important safety messages to their students, DCA is protecting more South Sudanese children from mine and ERW accidents.

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South Sudan faces a widespread and protracted mine and explosive remnant of war (ERW) problem, which is likely to threaten successive generations of people. Some of the people most at risk of injury or death are young children.
Young children learn from everything they do. They are naturally curious and inquisitive and learn through play.
If a child comes across a strange item it has not seen before, it will be drawn to it and will naturally want to investigate it. The child will see, maybe touch, learn and enjoy gaining greater knowledge about the world.
If the ‘item’ is a landmine or explosive remnant of war (ERW), then the child’s curiosity may lead it to serious injury or death.
When DCA Risk Education (RE) teams work in local communities, they always visit primary schools and provide the children with child-friendly RE and safety messages to try and protect them from harm.
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However, after a while, each team must move on, meaning each child in the school will receive RE once only, and it is well documented and well known that children often forget, even the most important of messages.
In order to ensure children hear safety messages about mines and ERW on a regular basis, DCA trained 48 teachers in the greater Kapoeta area to be RE providers in their respective schools. The training was an intensive 3-day residential course, held in Kapoeta Town, Eastern Equatoria State. Teachers attended from 28 different schools, most of them primary schools.
Each teacher was provided with a training manual and corresponding poster pack, specially designed by the Ministry of Education, National Mine Action Authority, UNICEF and United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).
The DCA RE team explored with the teachers ways in which children learn, when they are most at risk from mines and ERW, which safety messages can save lives, how best to share these safety messages and how to incorporate MRE in daily school life.
“The first day of the course was extremely interesting,” said Jackson, a teacher from Nachukut Primary School. “I am a new teacher and I learnt about ways in which young children learn, and when they are most at risk from dangers. I also learnt what mines are and how to recognize them. I had heard about mines before, but I did not have enough knowledge to confidently share messages with my students. Now I think I can do it.”

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Florence, a teacher from Bishop Sisto Primary School, explained how surprised she was when she learnt that mines do not have expiry dates. “I always assumed that after a few years the mines will stop working and we will all be safe. Now I know that this is not true, and we must therefore really teach our children well about which areas they should stay away from.”
At the graduation ceremony, the County Director of Education presented certificates and t-shirts to all the teachers and encouraged them to share the information they had learnt with their students, and to be positive role models for the whole community.
The DCA RE team will visit some of the teachers in the next few weeks, to observe how the teachers are sharing their new knowledge and to provide the teachers with extra support and guidance, if needed.
 
The described activities are made available by a donation from the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).