20 universities in Viet Nam pledged to build safe and violence-free learning environment for students
Ha Noi, Viet Nam — Today, more than 300 participants from the Ministry of Education and Training, other central ministries and sectors, as well as lecturers and students from more than 20 universities, institutes, colleges, and technical/vocational schools in Ha Noi and neighboring localities are gathering to make commitments to build safe and violence-free university campuses for female students, faculty, and staff.
This is an activity in response to the National Action Month on Gender Equality and Violence Prevention and Response in the education sector, conducted by the Ministry of Education and Training together with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Ha Noi University Physical Education and Sports, which aims to raise the awareness on the importance of enabling a safe, healthy and friendly learning environment, including university campuses free from violence against all university members.
A safe and friendly education environment is an environment where learners are protected from different forms of violence and psychological and physical harms. However, gender-based violence still occurs in some universities in various forms such as isolation, boycott, discrimination, bullying, stalking, harassment, sexual assault and even dating violence. According to a national survey conducted by UNESCO in 2017 on school-related gender-based violence in Viet Nam, 51.9% of students participating in the survey experienced at least one form of violence in the last six months. Of which, more than 70% of student respondents from sexual minority groups (LGBTQI) reported having experienced verbal violence and physical abuse.
Addressing the opening remarks at the event, Mrs. Le Thi Hang, Deputy Director of Student Affairs Department commented: “School-related gender-based violence can negatively affect the physical, mental, and academic performance of students, faculty, and staff. In the long term, such acts of violence can adversely affect the quality of human resources and the development of the country. Therefore, in the education and training sector, it is always a task of utmost importance to build a safe, friendly and non-violent learning environment.”
More than 300 participants of the event also had the opportunity to take part in the dialogue and exchange with guest speakers, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Training and UN Women on the topic. Leaders and experts responded to significantly substantial and burning questions directly posed by young participants on gender-based violence in the education sector, especially in a campus setting.
At the event, Mrs. Elisa Fernandez Saenz, UN Women Representative in Viet Nam recommended universities and the education sector to implement the 10 essential actions globally recommended by UN Women to enable a safe, friendly, and violence-free learning environment, including: 1. Conduct surveys and studies to assess the situation on school-related gender-based violence; 2. Put in place relevant policies that are based on evidence on different types of school-related gender-based violence that students, faculty and staff have experienced; 3. Assign dedicated coordinators at different levels in the sector and at universities to address school violence; 4. Put in place protocols that outline the procedures to handle cases of violence; 5. Conduct interim and supportive measures for survivors of school-related gender-based violence; 6. Establish robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms; 7. Allocate a dedicated budget for school-related gender-based violence prevention and response; 8. Provide urgent assistance to survivors and connect them with essential services; 9. Implement awareness-raising and bystander programmes across the sector; 10. Enforce programmes to promote equal and respectful relationships, as well as challenge gender stereotypes, masculinities and femininities that are harmful to the gender equality work.
In closing the action month launch ceremony, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Training and UN Women and other universities participating in the event joined to sign the commitment on “Safe and violence-free university campuses for female students, faculty, and staff”, in order to demonstrate the determination to jointly ensure a safe and friendly educational environment, prevent gender-based violence, which contributes to furthering education quality and eliminating gender-based violence.
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