Plan Laos

An essential part of Plan’s work is to help create spaces for children and young people to discuss together the issues which affect their lives, then and then to persuade adults respect their views, so that children may be involved in community decision-making. This letter has been prepared with and by children directly and is intended to give a general sense of the kinds of issues children discussed and how Plan and children work together.

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School violence
Dear Sponsors, We are children from the PhaOudom district, Bokeo province and we represent our schools. We are proud to be selected to participate in this important discussion with Plan staff and with other children from different villages in our area, where Plan has worked over the past two years. In the past we never had a chance to sit together as children to discuss and share our ideas; this was the first time and we were all excited to engage in this crucial activity. We are happy to share our views on issues related to education in our schools, especially issues on violence. This includes teachers’ behaviour to students and students’ behaviour towards each other. In general schools seem to be peaceful places, but we know that violence We have learnt about our rights and exists silently in them. Before our discussions rights to be protected together we thought violence in schools was normal. Now we had the opportunity to discuss about these issues we realise that it is not normal and it has bad effects on us. During our discussion we have identified some issues within school that affect us: • Some children behave and talk impolitely to each other • Some children look down and discriminate other children, particularly children from different ethnic groups • Some children are bullying, teasing or even fighting with each other • Some children do not obey the teachers and do not follow school regulation • Teachers use impolite words around students • Teachers use inappropriate punishments, for example teachers ordered students to stand in the sun or run around school when student

Laphet, an 11 year-old primary student

could not complete homework on time.
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Teachers tease students who are not good at studying.

After I’d involved in the discussion with other friends, it helps me to realise that there is violence within school, and I feel sad and do not want it to happen. It affects my friends and they do not want to go to school, currently I have learned from Plan staff that we as children also have rights. If violence happens in school I will tell my parents, school teachers or principal to stop it, especially teachers’ behaviour that has bad effects on my friends and me. –Laphet. We used to think that violence in school, whether caused by teachers or our friends, is acceptable and very common in many schools. When a teacher punished us, we thought that it is the right thing for them to do even if we disliked it, because the teacher is an adult who provides us lessons and knowledge. We did not complain to our parents because we were afraid the teacher might get angry and give us a very low score in our examination. On top of this other teachers and our friends might think we are bad students if we are not obedient. The teacher might tell our parents and they might misunderstand and think we aren’t good students and they will stop supporting us to go to school. We think the problem is caused by a lack of understanding of child rights and child development among the school teachers, and among children and young people themselves. Most of us have no opportunity to learn or gain understanding on our own rights and responsibilities If the above issues are not well addressed it will have bad effects on all students, schools, families, and communities. Students will be less interested in education; they will not want to participate in school activities, they will start to skip school and this will eventually lead to dropping out altogether. This in turn might result in children using drugs and committing crime. Families will remain poor and parents will not trust teachers and will get a negative view on children education. This can lead to a bad reputation for the school, which can have an affect on our community development in general. We have joyful activities and games After two days discussion we think many of the above issues can be solved by our collective actions and with support from our parents, school teachers and principal, district government and Plan. I am excited to join this activity and using my rights in sharing my idea in stopping violence in school. I have learnt a lot and I understand more about child rights. I feel bad when a teacher uses violence on students, this makes me dislike that teacher, and I do not want to go to school or participate in school activitiesSuphan. We will start with ourselves by treating our friends with respect, and stop any form of violence. We can raise awareness among our friends, and parents through: discussion, drama, and singing to demonstrate non violent behaviour. If violence occurs, we will take action by informing the teacher, the school principal and parents. Importantly Plan in cooperation Suphan, a 13-year old lower secondary with the government shall provide support student for teachers and school principals on child rights training in order to ensure that they understand child rights and know how to practice
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creative discipline without violence. Also, we will study hard, go to school regularly, and respect our teachers. We are so happy and proud to participate in this event; it is a joyful event with lot of activities, games, music, while we learned and gained knowledge about Plan, child rights, child protection. Furthermore, this helps to build self confidence; enable us to express our feeling, thoughts, ideas, and know how to take proper action against all forms of violence. We hope Plan will continue to support this activity in further years and invite more children to participate and create more opportunities and stage for children to express their view and present their potentials. This communication message was prepared through the collective efforts of a group of thirty children; boys and girls, age group between 10-15 years old, who are representatives from different schools and villages where Plan works. The process was facilitated, reviewed and edited by Singkham, Siphouthone, Manivanh, and Santi of Plan and Thongbai from Plan’s local government partner, the District Education Bureau.

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