In November, Watchlist’s civil society partner COALICO from Colombia launched a new Protective School campaign aiming to promote schools as protective spaces for children affected by armed conflict in the Valle de Cauca department. While the Colombian government and the FARC are negotiating a peaceful solution to the conflict, child recruitment is an ongoing problem. Schools are targeted during military confrontations, and students are threatened by unexploded ordnances, leading to the suspension of many educational activities and, in some instances, full closure of the schools. Teachers are threatened, and armed actors recruit children in schools, which significantly undermines the schools’ protected status. Children from ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable.
As part of the campaign, COALICO provides training and raises awareness about the protective role of schools to teachers and school authorities from the Valle de Cauca. They then invite teachers and schools to develop protective strategies designed to efficiently respond to the specific threats faced by children as a result of the conflict, and integrate these activities into the work plan of the school. Out of all the initiatives submitted, a jury panel will select five that will be implemented as pilot projects with financial support from this project.