This is the final installment in our marginalised groups blogs, rounding up research done with our partners in East Africa to see how COCO is working to be inclusive, ensuring that all children have access to good quality education. The blogs on gender, disability and religion are all available for you to read too.
COCO believes that every child has the right to good quality education, and that this will provide the best possible chances of breaking the cycle of poverty. Unfortunately, some marginalised groups are often inadvertently left behind. One of these groups is people with non-hetero sexualities. This blog will explore whether Schools for Life offer children of gender and sexual minorities the same chances as others and uncover what still needs to be done.
91% of respondents feel ensuring people of all sexualities have equal access to education is very important and 9% feel it is somewhat important. In regards to how effective COCO’s work is at ensuring people of all sexualities have equal access to education, 46% of respondents feel it is very effective, 36% feel it is somewhat effective, but 18% feel it is not effective.
What has already been achieved?
Unfortunately, in the communities COCO works in there is a lot of stigma and discrimination towards people of different sexualities, to do with the way the community members have been socialised and a lack of understanding on the subject. In many of the communities, different sexualities are also not accepted by the government. There are also a lot of myths and traditions surrounding people of different sexualities. These, therefore, make COCO’s work on ensuring people of all sexualities have equal access to education rather difficult, as people belonging to this group often hide it.
Quite a lot of the responses expressed that people of all sexualities having access to education was not an issue for them as they had never experienced it. However, some respondents stated that they have inclusive education in place that would not block anyone of any sexuality accessing education and feel that people need to be educated to know that all people, of any sexuality or race etc., have the right to access education.
What needs to be done?
In regards to what more needs to be done, there was a strong response for the need of awareness, information sharing and advocacy about different sexualities to help avoid discrimination, as some of the cultures in the communities don’t accept different sexualities. One respondent also felt that people of different sexualities should be identified so they can ensure they do have equal access to education; however, this may come with many ethical issues to do with possible legal repercussions for the individual, so may not be appropriate.
The issues surrounding this marginalised group are complex. It seems likely that there is not direct discrimination against this group accessing education, primarily because those of non-hetero sexualities are not able to be open about it, which is a major concern in itself for the wellbeing of the students. COCO will continue to work with these communities to protect these students, however due to possible legal repercussions meaning that schools could be closed if suspected of promoting other sexualities, a fine line must be walked between educating students and communities and ensuring the schools can remain open to provide education to all. In the coming year, COCO hopes to invest in a sexual health coordinator in Southern Tanzania, to work towards this goal.
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