N. S. Educational Trust - Safe Schools

Project Brief: Safe Schools aims to empower schools to minimize the risk of all forms of abuse and equip them to deal with incidents of child abuse in a manner in a child-centric manner.
This year, Safe Schools aims at reaching 8
Project Type: Other (description)
Primary Focus: other (description)

Secondary Focus: children from slums

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Austin
Status: current / ongoing
Project Steward: Sowmya Suryanarayanan
Project Partner(s): Harini
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , 371, MGR Rd, Ezhil Nagar, Sholinganallur,,Chennai,
TAMIL NADU  600119
Tel: 011 91 9940450930
Stewarding Chapter: Austin
Nov 2023AustinUSD 13003

Total = $13003

Safe Schools will operate in the low-income communities across Chennai, Tamil Nadu in affordable private and government-aided schools. These schools charge an annual fee of less than INR 20,000 (USD 250) and cater to students hailing from families with annual income under INR 150,000 (USD 1875). A majority of these students are first generational learners and their primary care-givers work as blue-collar/ daily wage laborers, housekeepers, street hawkers or operate small roadside stalls.

Over 50% of children in India face abuse. This statistic has two issues - it represents only the reported cases and it accounts only for physical and sexual abuse. World Health Organization (WHO) defines child maltreatment as all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation. By this definition, over 90% of children in India are likely to be subjected to abuse. Educators, as stakeholders of children who spend atleast 6 hours a day with them, share a common responsibility and commitment to the awareness, prevention and reporting of and responding to child abuse in the course of their work. Surveys show that less than 5% of schools in India have the required resources for preventing/ addressing sexual abuse and over 70% of students aren't aware if such provisions are available to them. Presumably, less than 1% of all schools are equipped to deal with other forms of abuse.

Safe Schools aims to empower schools to minimize the risk of all forms of abuse and equip them to deal with incidents of child abuse in a manner in a child-centric manner. Potential long-term impact of implementing the Safe Schools’ framework in low-income schools:

1. Educators and school leaders embed a culture of safety within the school.
2. Schools works with parents communities to raise self-regulated children using positive behavioral management attitudes
3. All children are empowered with knowledge of their rights and responsibilities and thus make healthy, informed choices, not just while in school, but throughout their lives. They are confident, assertive and have good support networks and thus less likely to be at risk of abuse or find themselves in dangerous situations.
Safe Schools aims to empower schools to minimize risk of all forms of abuse and equip students and teachers to deal with incidents of child abuse in a child-centric manner.
NS Educational Trust was set up in 2004 by Lalitha Chandrasekaran, an educationist with 25
years of experience leading schools and her husband, Chandrasekaran, an entrepreneur, with the
vision to use education as a socio-economic leveler. What started as a free after school tuition
center for children in the Sholinganallur area in Chennai became a full-fledged school called
Ramana Vidyalaya (RV) in 2006 to cater to students from tsunami-affected communities. Over the
past 15 years, RV has evolved into a middle-income school that caters to students across the
socio-economic strata where 25% of all students are provided with subsidised or free education.

About 6 years ago, a few incidents in the community exposed the gaps in awareness about
child safety. To address the issues and make the RV community a safer place for children, we
collaborated with Tulir, an organization that specializes in working on Child Abuse, to put in place a
comprehensive infrastructure that ensures that safety and wellbeing of the children that included:

? a school-wide child safety policy along with recruitment safety checks, codes of conduct for
staff and students etc. to facilitate personal safety and cyber safety
? bringing external child safety experts to conduct knowledge and skill building sessions for
the management, students, parents and staff
? a child safety committee to guide staff and parents to identify and report incidents of child
abuse, handle these incidents with the well-being of child at the center
? guidebooks for parents, teachers and children on prevention and identification of incidents
of abuse
? continuous teacher training to sensitize staff around child abuse, gender discrimination
and tools to create inclusive classroom spaces.
The experience of implementing these structures across the stakeholders and monitoring
the outcomes helped us reflect and refine them over a period of time. This learning has now
evolved into the Safe Schools Framework, a comprehensive guide to setting up holistic structures
for safety and wellbeing from scratch in any school. Now, we would like to take this to as many
schools as possible starting with low-income schools in Chennai.