If you were to stop a cycle of violence, where would you start?
About a year ago, that was the question on the minds of our thousands of anti-domestic violence activists in Haiti. The leaders of the movement to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) had already trained religious leaders, community leaders, journalists and health care professionals, but they knew that they were missing a key group: students.
Today, Beyond Borders is piloting Haiti’s first-ever school curriculum aimed to stop cycles of violence in their tracks. The ultimate goal? To integrate the program into Haiti’s national curriculum so that across the country kids will join the movement to end VAWG as early as possible.
The anti-violence school program is being piloted in two high schools in Southeast Haiti, and, ultimately, we hope it will make its way into the country’s national curriculum.
First, Beyond Borders’ Rethinking Power team identified two high schools in Southeast Haiti that would be ideal for the pilot. Next, they worked with a US-based team to identify the best programs out there and use them as models for the one currently being adapted to the Haitian reality.
Once the program structure is completed, the Executive Committees of the two schools will implement initial trainings with the rest of the staff.
“The first step is to teach and inform people about VAWG,” said Jean Prosper Elie, Beyond Borders’ Country Co-Director. “When they’re ready, the school personnel will work together to create a Code of Conduct, then they’ll start working with students.”
In addition to preventing VAWG early on, the curriculum serves a second purpose of making school a safer place for students, particularly young girls, to be.
“School is not always a safe place–especially in relationships between teachers and students,” said Elie. “It’s not always a well-prepared environment for young people.”
Once the curriculum is implemented, however, that will begin to change.
“School is one of the institutions that carries a lot of value in society,” said Elie, who received his degree from the State University of Haiti.
“If we change norms in school, consequentially we’ll have victors in society who can change it.”