In schools in Manabí, Ecuador, violence takes on many forms. Verbal abuse, physical harassment and emotional abuse run rife in educational centers in which, on some occasions, backed up by the parents, the teachers themselves tend to believe in the notion that "to spare the rod is to spoil the child".
If the relationships formed in schools are based on violent behavior this will go on to be replicated in all aspects of the children's development with nothing to prevent this from occurring time and time again. In their homes, where the majority of families live in extreme poverty, they do not have the tools to educate their children about peaceful coexistence.
The Manabí Association works to reduce the numbers of violent incidents through intensive awareness-raising work and helping children learn about values and ways of relating to one another in non-violent ways. Improving the school environment will have a direct impact on primary school students who can be supported in order to improve their academic performance, to introduce new behaviors in the home and to lay the groundwork for balanced individual development.
In order to achieve their objectives, the Learning to live in peace in Ecuador project, launched by the Santa Marta foundation, will train 30 women to strengthen and support young children in the fight against violence. Each woman will be given a briefcase with the materials necessary for the activities they will be carrying out in the classrooms (among others, drawing, storytelling and reading and writing workshops) and every child will take home a poster related to non-violence in order to become messengers of peaceful coexistence.