Here we are again! Schools are reopening for another school term and the hustle and the bustle begins. Amidst the rush and the shopping, there is a need to ensure the safety of all children in school. There has been so much talk on social media about the safety and wellbeing of our children in school. This is critical if children are to enjoy their school experience and especially if they are to learn with excellence.

In schools, teachers and other school staff play a very significant role in pupil safety and child protection. The terms ‘child protection’ and ‘safeguarding’ are used synonymously. They are, however, slightly different. Child protection refers specifically to children who may be at a higher-risk of harm while safeguarding refers to all children — therefore all learners in schools.

Safeguarding should be the backbone of every school administration. CRANE trains schools regularly in child safeguarding and would like to help schools understand what it is and make suggestions on measures that can be taken to ensure that children are safe, well and thriving as they fulfill their God-given potential throughout this School Year.

Child safeguarding means protecting children’s health, wellbeing, welfare and human rights. It includes enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

It also means creating a safe environment for people who come into contact with your institution or organisation from harm- people who benefit from your institution or organisation, children, your staff or your volunteers.

Here are 5 suggestions for the schools, parents and children that are important as they prepare to return to school, to ensure their safety.

To the school administrators;

  1. Create safe environments for children and young people through robust safeguarding practices like appointing a child protection lead and establishing safeguarding teams.
  2. Maintain an environment where children feel confident to approach any member of staff if they have a worry or problem.
  3. Invest in safeguarding education for both your staff and learners.
  4. Make a careful examination of what, in your area of work, could cause harm to people so that you can assess whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm.
  5. Develop and display a clear code of conduct that clearly defines to all the stakeholders what acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the school is.
  6. Develop and clearly define to all the staff what the reporting procedure should be regarding a safeguarding concern. Think about when to report a concern, who to report to, how to respond, and what the follow up will be.

To the parents;

  1. Talk with your child about keeping themselves safe. It’s important to talk to children from a young age about where they can go to get help if they don’t feel safe or are worried about something.
  2. Your child should report any incident to a trusted adult in school and or to you.

To the children/learners/ students; (What should I do if I feel unsafe?)

  1. Everyone has the right to feel safe andbe protected. Please speak out if you don’t feel safe in your school.
  2. No one is allowed to threaten you, hurtyou or touch you in a way that makes youfeel uncomfortable. Please tell a teacher in your school or your parent/carer.
  3. Report your concerns to the nominated child protection lead in your school as soon as possible.
  4. Dial the toll free child helpline i.e. Sauti 116 to report any cases of abuse going on in your school.

What should I do if I am worried that someone I know is unsafe?

  1. Tell an adult you trust. This can be a teacher or any adult atyour school. They will be able to help your friend or theperson you are worried about.
  2. You can also tell your parent, carer, or any familymember or adult that you trust.
  3. Talk to an adult even if the person you are afraid of asks you not to. It is moreimportant to make sure that you or your friend issafe and protected.

As a school, do you have a safety plan in place? School safety is linked to improved student and school outcomes. Emotional and physical safety in school particularly, are related to academic performance. At the same time, students who are victims of physical or emotional harassment are at risk of poor attendance, course failure and school dropout.

For more information, please

Invite CRANE network to train your staff in safeguarding. Visit our website ( for more details

Veronica Babirye and Annah Tusiime




The vision of Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE) is to see children safe, well and thriving in God’s Plan as they fulfil their God given Potential.

Central to this vision is a desire to see children not only treated well by the adults around them but also for the children themselves to be aware of how they should be treated and to actively ensure their own good treatment.

The Good treatment campaign is one of the global campaigns the Network carries out every year with its members. Key to this campaign is to address awareness, children’s rights and needs and keep children safe while involving adult engagement and seeking community commitment.

The campaign is run through the month of September and six key messages are emphasised. In the past, the campaign mostly stressed five messages; however, following the effects of global warming a sixth aspect on the environment was added to this campaign.

The messages are child friendly and emphasise Love, Acceptance, Quality time, Education, Responsibility and care for the Environment.

Over the years, the GTC has impacted lives of millions of children and adults not only in Uganda but also across the world.

In a recent campaign, we experienced tears of Joy when a girl and her mother reconciled. The two had been dealing with many issues, which they were able to talk through following a series of meetings resulting from the campaign. The two forgave each other, hugged and walked back home happier than they had come.

The campaign has helped change the mind-set of parents especially in terms of disciplining their children and understanding how best they can support their children especially during these very uncertain times of COVID-19.

We call upon all Network members to join us in advancing this campaign even further.

For daily messages on the campaign, please follow us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.




Cissy Namatovu and Annah Tusiime


Globally, it is estimated over 600 million girls and women alive today were married as children. For some of these women and girls – this means a life being deprived of their rights. Deprived of a seat in the classroom. Deprived of a chance to make their own decisions and deprived of a voice to speak out about issues that they face.

The practice of early child marriage limits choice, limits futures, and limits the lives of millions of girls. It challenges the commitment to gender equality and it blocks progress towards the better, fairer world envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite this daunting number there is some good news like in Bridget*’s story.
Bridget* is a 15-year-old girl living with a disability. In 2017, Bridget* was enrolled in one of our creative learning centres for catch up and later reintegrated into a mainstream school. Bridget* and her sister live with their elder brother Jasper* in a Kampala suburb.

Jasper* does not have a stable source of income and when COVID hit in 2020, he could not afford to take care of both his sisters hence sending them to live with their mother in the village. When schools were partially opened in 2021, both girls returned to Jasper*’s place. This was however short lived as the country soon went into a second lockdown. Once again, the girls returned to their mother’s village in Mpigi.

In 2022, following a full reopening of the economy, schools reopened once again. Bridget* however, did not come back to Kampala. Jasper* later learnt that his young sister had been married off by her mother. As soon as he heard the news, he travelled to the village to ascertain what had happened. To his surprise, it was true. Without hesitation, Jasper* got in touch with Bridget*’s Learning Support Teacher at her former school who later got in touch with the mentor in the same community. Both the teacher and mentor are associated with Oasis a CRANE network member.

The community mentor and Jasper* agreed to meet and pay a visit to his mother. This was to tactfully rescue Bridget* from a forced marriage. With the help of police in Mpigi, Bridget* was rescued and the perpetrator imprisoned. Bridget and her sister are now back in school and receiving counselling to heal from the traumatic experience.

We know from the COVID spread and from other public health crises that adolescent girls are disproportionally affected by emergencies. Child marriage, sexual violence and exploitation, and adolescent pregnancy increased in some parts of the country leaving so many marginalised children out of school.

This particular pandemic led to school closures and a loss of education, schools were closed for nearly two years. We therefore would like to thank our network members especially Oasis in this case particularly Mentors and Learning Support Teachers, who worked tirelessly to ensure that our girls were kept safe and made sure they all returned to school as soon as schools reopened.

Veronica Babirye




CRANE’s vision is that Children are Safe, Secure and Thriving in God’s Plan as they fulfil their God-given potential and one of our focus areas is Children enjoying Safe Spaces.

Children are exposed to legal processes as victims of abuse; witnesses of crime, those in conflict with the law and sometimes because their parents have cases in court. In Uganda, the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (ODPP) handles numerous cases, many of them falling in the category of defilement and the majority of victims are children as young as three months old. The perpetrators are well known to the victims and sometimes-even relatives. CRANE has tirelessly advocated for safe spaces for children to express themselves and now 9 child friendly rooms have been created for them.

CRANE’s partnership with the ODPP led to the training of more than 400 public prosecutors to promote child-friendly ways of approaching children so that they are respected and dignified in the process. This led to the launch of the first child-friendly space at the ODPP – a beautiful and fully equipped room that gives children a relaxing and free environment to express themselves. Click here to see a video about the launch.

The rooms include a wide range of therapeutic books for both children and prosecutors, play materials and a lot to help them relax and tell their story with ease and without intimidation. They are also receptions and holding spaces for child victims, witnesses before their appearance in court, Preparation rooms for victims and witnesses for court by the prosecutors, Interview rooms for child victims and witnesses and support centres for children who are at risk and may be in need of advice and support. In addition, with CRANE’s provision of anatomical dolls to support ODPP in handling of gender and sexual offences in court, conviction rates have increased from 50% to 70%.


“The room is the first of its kind to cater for a very important, vulnerable part of society and our clientele,” says His Lordship Justice Mike Chibita, Director of Public Prosecution in Uganda.


With nine child-friendly rooms now across the country, we believe that children will have less traumatising traditional court moments, which will lead to good quality evidence and thus more convictions or justice. Crane’s safeguarding team has carried on with training prosecutors in child safeguarding, psychology and development to promote the same cause.




Annah Tusiime


For over 6 years of implementing the Girls’ Education Challenge Project (GEC), Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE)’s Creative Learning Centres have been and continue to help schools and communities develop their capacity to use creative approaches and digital technologies to support learning of critically vulnerable children.

CRANE runs 15 creative learning centres set up in 15 local communities. 2 of these 15 centres are specifically supporting children living with Special Education Needs ( ).

At the inception of the GEC project in 2013, CRANE appointed over 30 Mentors who live in these local communities whose major role was the targeted recruitment of girls considered likely to fail in education. Our Creative Learning Centres (CLCs) approach provides targeted high-quality teaching that helps girls to go into or continue in school. 

Over the past 6 years, CRANE through this approach has helped 9890 girls get back into school. A good number of these girls have graduated out of school and are now in formal employment.

The years 2020 and 2021 were heavily defined by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. This led to global social and economic disruption, worldwide lockdowns and in addition an economic recession in most countries. The lockdowns left schools in Uganda closed for several months. Many children countrywide were not able to continue learning because they had no access to education resources or people to offer them the support they needed.

However, children in communities where CRANE works have a different story to tell. After Ugandan schools closed due to coronavirus pandemic, it was unclear how and when in- person learning could happen safely. CRANE with support from its network partners opened learning hubs across communities to offer in-person and safe spaces for small groups of children to continue learning during lockdown. 

Our teachers who are trained to deal with a diverse and ever-changing world were able to navigate a distance learning model together with the CLC model to offer support to learners bringing the number of girls reached to 9908. The increase in number follows several months of lockdown as many children were stuck at home. We saw many learners embrace the use of technology.

The location of project staff, particularly the Mentors and Learning Support Teachers (LST), in these local communities where GEC Girls were based made it possible to respond to school closures and lockdown restrictions with a range of activities that allowed some form of contact with the Girls to continue.

Our CLC model works really well and as proof CRANE recently sampled 1,098 out of 9908 Girls and their Primary Care Givers to assess the progress the girls are making in school. The girls and their caregivers were interviewed separately using a household survey. The Household Survey was based on the same surveys carried out at Baseline and Midline 1 two years ago. Most of the Girls also carried out short learning assessments in Numeracy and Literacy.

When the caregivers were asked what the most useful intervention had been for the GEC Girls during lockdown, meeting a teacher was the most popular response with a big majority (over 50% of all responses mentioned meeting a teacher).

Also, recent findings show that the project through this model has been very effective since Midline 1 despite the difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Almost of all (96%) Girls who were in both the Midline 1 and Midline 2 surveys have increased their scores in Learning.

And as schools begin to reopen this year, our teachers will continue to provide support for the deep academic and emotional needs of the children who are returning to school after the coronavirus threw their lives into disarray.

CRANE thanks all its partners working tirelessly to support and keep critically vulnerable girls motivated to keep on learning.