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Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
23 December 2016

UNICEF and Finland sign grant agreement on non-violence project for Palestinian schools

EAST JERUSALEM, 23 December 2016 – Today UNICEF and the Representative Office of Finland to Palestine signed a grant agreement for an innovative, cross-sectoral project aimed at promoting a culture of non-violence in Palestinian schools.

Thanks to a contribution of EUR one million from Finland, the new UNICEF programme will support efforts to address the violence which affects Palestinian children from their early years through adolescence.

Using a comprehensive approach, the project will challenge the use of violence and social disruption in Palestinian schools and communities by strengthening policies and practices to promote peaceful conflict resolution, positive discipline, and violence-free schools.

“Bullying at school is a universal problem, including in Finland, as the human mind works the same way all over the world. The difficult context in which education takes place in Palestine does not make it any easier to solve this problem,” said H.E. Pirkko-Liisa Kyöstilä, Ambassador and Head of Mission of the Representative Office of Finland.

“Turku University in Finland has developed the ‘KiVaSchool’ antibullying program, which has been implemented successfully in other countries as well. One of its topics is "Let's make it together", involving parents and the community at large. In the light of the example of this year’s Global Teacher Prize Winner, Hanan Al Hroub from Palestine, we can see that this is a field in which all the stakeholders have a lot to learn from, and to offer to each other,” Kyöstilä added.

“Parents, caregivers, teachers sometimes resort to corporal punishment because they do not know non-violent methods of disciplining children. Students themselves sometimes resort to violence or bullying because they do not know how to resolve conflicts,” said Ms. June Kunugi, UNICEF State of Palestine Special Representative.

“Finland’s generous support testifies to the country’s enduring commitment to improve education in Palestine. It will help us develop new models and techniques of conflict resolution which can be used in schools and in families, to the benefit of all,” Kunugi added.

Ninety-two percent of Palestinian children aged 1-14 years reported having experienced psychological aggression or physical punishment in the month preceding a 2014 survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Violence affects the development of children, and is often perpetuated through intergenerational cycles. Many children don’t realize that violence is an infringement of their rights, especially when it comes from teachers or relatives.

The project will help community members change their behaviour and develop attitudes and practices that prevent, reduce and help people cope with conflict and contribute to a more peaceful social environment. It will emphasize the negative impact of corporal punishment and prevent violence by training teachers on alternatives such as positive discipline.

Counsellors and teachers will be trained on how to detect and refer cases of child abuse; school mediation committees will be strengthened to promote conflict resolution and non-violence. Adolescents will actively participate as agents of positive behavioural and attitude change in their communities.

The project will also strengthen the humanitarian coordination and response in the fields of education and protection, while building the capacities of the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education to manage and respond to emergencies.

KiVa School antibullying program:

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