PROJECT “MINE RISK AND SALW EDUCATION IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA”
Mine Risk and Small Arms and Light Weapons Education in 10 primary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina (II semester of school 2008/2009 year).






 


Background:
The country-wide research that was conducted during 2007 on general assessment of landmine impact in Bosnia and Herzegovina identified 1.631 endangered communities. It is estimated that mine infected local communities directly impact the safety of 920.000 people. Out of this number of people 154.000 of them are living in highly impacted local communities, 342.000 people are living in medium impacted local communities and 424.000 people are living in low impacted local communities.

Out of total number of endangered local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 122 (7,48%) of them are highly impacted, 625 (38,32%) are medium impacted and 884 (54,19%) are low impacted local communities. In regard to the number of endangered local communities and level of landmine impact on particular community, Bosnia and Herzegovina belongs to the group of few most endangered countries in the world. The majority of endangered communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are in rural areas of the country. It is estimated that inhabitants of major urban areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina have a relatively safe economic and social life compared with the rural population that economically depends on access to landmine contaminated areas of the country.
To date, BHMAC has recorded over 18,200 minefields; however, it estimates the probable total number to be 30,000 minefields, containing approximately one million mines. BHMAC also estimates that one million items of UXO are still not located. Locations of many minefields are still unknown. The majority of minefields are within the former “zone of separation” between opposing forces, which has a total length of 1,100 kilometers and widths up to four kilometers. Minefields were laid along former conflict lines throughout the country, which were the subject of frequent change, so mines can be found throughout the whole country. The total area potentially affected is in the order of 2,000 square kilometers and the bulk of it still requires surveying in order to determine the finite extent of the problem.
The statistics indicate that particularly vulnerable groups include farmers, children, forestry and construction workers. Males in rural areas, aged 20-40 years are most likely to fall victim of mines, as they practice high-risk behavior. The population is, in many cases, aware of the existence of mines and the danger they pose, but all do not practice safe behavior, mainly due to economic necessities (wood cutting, metal collection etc). According to the ICRC statistics, during 2004, 43 people were mine and UXO victims. Of that number, 6 (almost 15% of total number of victims) were children. In 2005 the number of casualties decreased to 15, but in 2006 and 2007 the number of accidents increased. No child casualties were reported in 2007 and 2008. However, children become particularly vulnerable when their family members are injured, especially if the father or mother can no longer work and send children to school.
The high levels of small arms, light weapons (SALW) and ammunition in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a concerning legacy of the country’s 1992-1995 war. The UNDP Small Arms Survey for BiH showed that over 19% of BiH population possesses weapons. Alarmingly, the Small Arms Survey showed that 34.2% of respondents in BiH claimed that given a legal opportunity, their household would acquire a firearm.
In the 2004 UNICEF-commissioned survey on MRE and SA risk education in the school system of BiH, over a third of respondent male children stated they had manipulated a firearm, 10% percent said they did it without supervision of adults and 17% said they had fired a weapon. This alarming data mirrors concerns expressed in meetings in which school teachers monitor and evaluate UNICEF landmine and small arms risk reduction project. Teachers repeatedly claim support, training and materials, to be better equipped to confront the problem of SALW.
On the grounds of the statistics presented herein and lessons learned during implementation of our project “MR and SALW Education in primary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina’’, Genesis Project decided to continue to work (on the same basis) with children and schoolteachers in primary schools and representatives from local communities (Civil Protection, Police, local authorities, individuals, etc.). We hope that application of wide-range MRE/SALW activities on members of local communities (children, schoolteachers, local authorities, local institutions, etc.) will contribute in formation of positive framework within targeted local communities to accept safe forms of behavior and in creation of positive background for realization of present MRE/SALW actions and realization of new locally based action (created in relation school-local community).
UNICEF is engaged in school based mine risk education at two levels: policy development and support to ministries of education for the inclusion of mine risk education in the school curricula, while working in parallel on risk mitigation through direct school projects in impacted communities.

Since 2004, UNICEF school based mine risk education work was mainly focused in high and medium impacted communities, identified as most affected by the Landmine Impact Survey. According to the recent evaluation of BHMAC conducted in 2007, there are 122 high impacted communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. UNICEF school based mine risk education project was implemented in more than half of these high impacted communities.

This project is a continuation of the previous mine risk and small arms education projects that have been designed and implemented successfully. It targeted schools in high and medium impacted communities were school based project were implemented.

PROJECT GOAL AND ACHIEVED RESULTS

Through MRE/SALW educational activities, the goal of this project was to empower targeted children, schoolteachers, representatives of local communities and students of Teachers faculties to organize and facilitate Mine Risk and SALW Education activities that will result in permanent education of new generations on danger and ways of protection from mines, UXO’s and small arms.

Specific objectives of this project were as follows:

  1. To raise awareness of children and adults on constant and long term danger from mines, unexploded ordnance and small arms;
  2. To increase knowledge and skills of school children, teachers and students of Teachers faculties on how to apply interactive and sustainable MR/SALW education and awareness activities in schools and communities;
  3. To initiate and support a “community/schools” based responses to risks posed by mines, UXO’s and small arms through the establishment of cooperation between schoolteachers and peer-educators and local community representatives;
  4. To initiate, facilitate and offer support in establishment of MRE/SALW Group in targeted primary schools, as cornerstone for future “community/schools” based activities against mines, UXO’s and small arms through the empowerment of selected schoolteachers and representatives of local community (Civil Protection, police force, local authorities, etc.)

The “Mine Risk and SALW education in primary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina’’ project was implemented in the following communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  1. 10 primary schools targeted through this project are situated in following communities: Lopare, Gradačac, Doboj, Teslić and Mrkonjić Grad.
  2. 2 Teachers faculties are situated in following communities: Zenica and Istočno Sarajevo.
  3. 25 MRE/SALW puppet show were performed in primary schools in western part of Republika Srpska and Una-Sana Canton.

Target groups/Beneficiaries were:

  • 200 children/MRE/SALW peer-educators
  • 2000 children – audience of MRE/SALW puppet theatre performances
  • 160 students of Teachers faculties targeted through MRE/SALW trainings for students of Teachers faculties
  • 300 schoolteachers targeted through MRE/SALW schoolteachers trainings
  • 60 schoolteachers and representatives of local communities that will be members of MRE/SALW Teachers Groups

Genesis Project general approach/strategy was:

  1. to equip children with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to adopt safer behaviour towards mines, UXO and SALW.
  2. to equip children with peer-education skills that will allow them to facilitate transfer of MRE and SAWL awareness and knowledge to their peers.
  3. to initiate and create MRE/SALW Groups in each targeted primary schools, that will in the long-term ensure MRE capacities at school level and work on community level
  4. to equip schoolteachers and community representatives with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to conduct good quality, full impact, independent and self-sustainable MRE and SALW education in primary schools.
  5. to develop consciousness and raise awareness (among school authorities, teachers, principals, pedagogues, among parents, students of Teachers faculty) about the importance of constant mine risk education and to encourage them to get involved in MRE activities.
  6. to equip students of Teachers faculties with the knowledge and skills that would allow them to conduct good quality, full impact, independent and self-sustainable MRE and SALW awareness in primary schools
  7. to move Genesis Project from it’s role of “external” and only Mine Risk Educator towards a role of initiator, mediator and creator of activities that will be further implemented by members of local communities.
  8. To equip the Government and communities with knowledge, skills and capacities to take over the activities and prevent injuries in the long-term, in a sustainable manner.

 


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