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The Asian Network of Buddhist Leaders for Child Protection

In partnership with INEB, create/support network for violence-free Buddhist monastic schools in the Mekong region and other countries.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Arigatou International (AI) and the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) will establish a network within INEB to convene teachers at Buddhist monastic schools, local Buddhist organizations, other faith-based partners and secular organizations in the Mekong region and other countries. The aim is to help create violence-free monastic schools by developing policies to end violence against children, and will be followed by workshops to build the capacity of Buddhist teachers to implement them. Consultations between the teachers and child protection experts will address (i) local social norms and attitudes that allow corporal punishment of children at home and in schools, gender-based violence, sexual abuse and exploitation of children; (ii) the effects of violence and sexual abuse on children’s development, and (iii) the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights principles and standards. Materials used will be adapted to the context of each country, enriched with examples of Buddhist philosophy and values and translated into local languages. At the first national consultation in Myanmar in April 2018, a child protection policy and action plan for the Mandalay monastic schools were adopted and will serve as a model for other schools. Monastic schools were the focus of that pilot. They are located in every state and region and provide the national curriculum for free to over a million children and orphans who cannot access the government education system. The next step of the program is to conduct workshops using AI’s Learning to Live Together (LTLT) intercultural and interfaith methodology developed by AI’s Ethics Education for Children in collaboration with UNESCO, UNICEF and AI’s Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and has been used in over 30 countries as a resource for working in peace education. During the period 2018-2021, the program will be applied in Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries are children attending, and often living at, primary and secondary level Buddhist monastic schools, and their teachers who are mainly monks and nuns. The program will use AI’s LTLT methodology that is part of an intercultural and interfaith program that aims to nurture children's ethical values to strengthen their identities and critical thinking, build constructive relations with others, and work towards positive change. The LTLT program seeks to equip children to make ethical decisions, nurture their spirituality, and enhance their innate ability to make positive contributions to transform their communities based on values that promote respect for their own culture and beliefs and for those of others.  Topics addressed by LTLT that are aimed at both children and adults include the prevention of violence, racism, discrimination or exclusion, poverty alleviation, conflict resolution, environmental protection and more.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This program will be successful and has unique advantages because the idea originated with the INEB, which saw an opportunity to engage monastic schools to help end violence against children in these communities. It asked AI for support because of AI’s experience in working to help end violence against children. INEB is a Buddhist network, meets regularly and provides an established platform from which to launch, develop, monitor and expand this program. The first national consultation was held in Mandalay, Myanmar in April 2018, with monks and nuns who teach more than 7,000 students. Experts presented evidence-based information about the negative effects on children’s development when exposed to violence, harmful discipline and sexual abuse. These subjects are usually considered taboo for Buddhist monks and nuns. The consultation provided the opportunity to discuss these issues with experts and to identify ways to create violence-free schools and communities.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

AI’s Prayer and Action for Children (AI-PAC) was launched in 2008 to establish the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children and promote interfaith collaboration for the well-being of children. Since 2011, all four initiatives of AI have made ending violence against children their thematic priority. The other initiatives are: Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC); Ethics Education for Children; and End Child Poverty.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

AI and INEB have developed a good working partnership and INEB knew of AI’s work in helping to address violence against children. INEB invited AI to help establish the network and build the capacity in Buddhist monastic schools to help create violence-free schools. Because he was impressed by evidence-based information presented by child protection experts at the 2017 Bangkok consultation, the principal of the Mandalay monastery school offered to host there the next consultation on this issue.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The program will bridge the gap between local social norms and attitudes that allow corporal punishment of children at home and in schools, gender-based violence, sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Buddhist leaders, concerned about harsh discipline methods in monastic schools, asked for AI's support to create a network for child protection and help establish safe schools that are violence-free. The success of the regional consultation in Bangkok in April 2017 and of the first national consultation in Myanmar in April 2018 underscored the importance of raising awareness of the harmful effects on children caused by harsh discipline and sexual abuse and of identifying ways to help prevent all forms of violence against children. LTLT's many themes include ending violence, racism and poverty, and protecting the environment, all of which bridge the categories of peace, prosperity and planet.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Partners: Arigatou International, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB); Ministry of Education and/or Ministry of Religion; Buddhist leaders of Mekong Region and Sri Lanka; Heads of Buddhist monastic schools; ECPAT; the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children; Save the Children; UNICEF; and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children. They provide experts on education, child protection, children’s rights, Buddhist practices, arrange technical support, translation, meetings and workshops, implement action plan, support new local working groups, monitor results of pilot program, revise pilot to ensure sustainability, arrange follow-up and provide outreach to help ensure continuity of program. In April 2018, a draft child protection policy was developed, an action plan was adopted, and a working group was formed to meet over next six months to finalize the policy and make it a model for other monastic schools in Myanmar.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The idea came from Buddhist leaders, many of whom participated in AI meetings such as the Panama Forum in 2017, attended by 500 representatives from different religions, and which focused on the role of faith communities in helping to end violence against children. In addition to the work already completed and mentioned above, the Asian Network of Buddhist Leaders for Child Protection will be launched soon, strengthening the capacity to refine, expand and implement this program in the region.

Geographic Focus

Asia - primary/secondary children and their monk/nun teachers in Buddhist monastic schools.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Arigatou International and partners started this program in 2017, held the first regional consultation in Bangkok, Thailand in April 2017, and held the first national consultation in Mandalay, Myanmar in April 2018. During the period 2018-2021, the program will be applied in Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. The program will be monitored, evaluated and refined on an ongoing basis.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


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In addition, we could also connect you to our Country Director and affiliate office in Nepal, who have been operating programs for children for over 20 years and whose schools have been selected as model schools for all of Nepal.

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This sounds like and important and powerful project. If you are looking for additional resources to support your project, please take a look at the book "Six Steps to Child Advocacy" by Amy Conley Wright and Kenneth Jaffe. If you are interested our office headquarters could even send you some copies. FCH-Espwa's partner ICRI has worked for decades in the field of child advocacy; fighting for children and fighting for those who fight for children. ICRI's Global Director, who co-authored this book, has also been training advocates on how to succeed in child advocacy since ICRI's inception in 1981. The book also includes other good research reference points and additional sources that you might find helpful. In addition, if you are looking for further advocacy support or training you can contact us