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School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) remains a key barrier to the right to education and learning for children across the world today (Leach, Dunne, & Salvi, 2014). About 150 million learners aged 13 to 15 report experiencing peer-to-peer violence in and around school (UNICEF, 2018, p. 3), and one in two school-aged children (aged 6 to 17) live in countries where corporal punishment is not fully prohibited at school (UNICEF, 2017, p. 39).
There is growing evidence that taking into account multiple educational levels (e.g., classrooms, schools, communities, and districts) and various education stakeholders (i.e., learners, parents, teachers, community members, government officials) can improve elements of school quality (Clair, Miske and Patel, 2007). But few studies have analyzed whole school approaches using a gender lens (Fulu, Kerr-Wilson, & Lang, 2014), and more work is needed to understand how to implement and sustain initiatives to preventing gender-based violence in school communities (Parkes et al., 2016).
Drawing on a social ecological theoretical model that uses a gendered lens, this paper describes a pilot that is implementing the UNGEI Whole School Approach (UNGEI, 2018) in 10 schools of two districts of Zimbabwe. The pilot seeks to explore more deeply how school actors (students, teachers, administrators) and communities can work together to prevent SRGBV and to improve reporting on SRGBV. Data were gathered from learners, teachers/school staff, and community members via surveys and interviews, as well as observational data at 10 schools in Shamva rural and Chitungwiza urban districts. Results from this pilot reveal how the drivers of SRGBV (such as the normalization of and silence around violence against children and women, rigid gender roles, stereotype constructions of femininity and masculinity, socio-economic inequality and discrimination, and institutional frameworks) are understood and experienced differently across stakeholders. In addition, data revealed how knowledge of and experiences with SRGBV at these 10 schools differ across stakeholders and locations.
This paper adds to the literature related to the evaluation of SRGBV by using instruments specifically designed with a gendered lens to measure the Whole School Approach, focusing on the drivers of SRGBV and on the eight WSA minimum standards (UNGEI, 2018). The paper also highlights the complexity of SRGBV, as well as the importance of gathering data from stakeholders at multiple levels, since knowledge of and experiences with SRGBV differed among learners, teachers, and parents/community members in these two districts.