Child Protection Officer Election:Dignitas

Children have the opportunity to fulfill their potential when schools offer quality education and a learning environment that values them and equips them to excel.

Today, we profile a school that is working to create an enabling environment for their students to thrive.

It’s Friday morning and we leave the office for Satellite community. We are attending a voting exercise for a Child Protection Officer at Riruta Jubilee Academy.

Thirty minutes later, we arrive at the school and I receive a warm welcome from Asha, a Class Seven student at the school. From the reception, it is evident that the students are confident, disciplined and they have a defined culture. We get into the school and all the students are already standing in line, ready for the voting exercise.

Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas
Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas
Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas

Following a training we conducted on administrative policies and child protection procedures, Riruta Jubilee is holding a formal election to select a Child Protection Officer. The school team decided to do things differently for a change and let students engage in the process. Previously, the school leaders would have made this decision independently without consulting the children and other staff members. But things are different now. The school also decided to open the Child Protection Officer position to all staff; this includes teachers and support staff. The students nominated ten candidates for this election.

Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas
Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas
Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas

The improvised ballot papers were distributed, ballot boxes set, and the election process began. The Dignitas representatives were acting as the independent election observers who were supporting a free and fair election. Looking keenly into this exercise, the school was accomplishing various learning goals. Whereas the exercise was targeted towards electing a Child Protection Officer, students were also having a practical lesson on the election and voting process. This was an excellent way to integrate citizenship activities to learning as this lesson could have a lasting impact on the future of the students.

After the smooth election process, it was now time to count the votes and determine the winner. The students were eagerly waiting and assisting Julie, the Appointed Presiding Officer to count the number of votes. Half way into vote counting, it was evident that there was a clear favorite for most of the students. Every time Teacher Catherine’s name was called out during vote counting, there were loud cheers and celebration from the students. Teacher Catherine had a landslide victory! Teacher Joseph was the first runners up, so he automatically became the Assistant Child Protection Officer.

Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas
Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas
Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas

Teacher Catherine is accommodative. I see most times during break time, the kids always want to talk to her. She’s a disciplinarian but she never uses the cane. During games, she brings herself down to the kids’ level, she rolls down and plays with them, without holding back.  And according to my responsibility sheet, Catherine also handles many other tasks and I believe this demonstrates her personality and her commitment.” The Head teacher Nicholas tells us as we seek to find out some of the reasons that could have led to her election.

Child Protection Officer Election: Dignitas

Teacher Catherine and Joseph have a big assignment ahead. They will lead the implementation of the child protection policy in their school, continuously sensitize children on child protection issues, work with management to solve any reported issues and ensure children have access to a safe environment for learning so they can succeed in their education!

Do you have a Child Protection Officer in your school? If you don’t, you can take the example of Riruta Jubillee and hold a similar election in your school. Protecting children in school is a priority and it should not be left to chance.

You can also learn more about the Founder & Director of Riruta Jubilee Academy. She has an inspiring story of how she began the school and her plans in the coming years.

Contributor: Gloria Omuya – Senior Communication & Operations Officer