The high number of sexual violence and teenage pregnancies prompted schools in Burundi to return to the cultural basics in a bid to eradicate this vice. Culturally, children in Burundi were assigned a mentor to guide them until they attain sexual maturity ahead of marriage. This mentorship role rested on fathers for the boys and paternal aunties for the girls.
The mentorship project dubbed “Institutionalization of the person of the Aunt and the Father in schools as a strategy for the eradication of sexual violence and early pregnancy in schools”, was created to help put a stop to sexual violence and early pregnancies which hindered the education of the Burundi girl child. The project however takes a different angle from the traditional system in that school aunts and fathers are chosen among their teachers or supervisors by the students themselves.
Since its inception in 2013, the project has been implemented in 121 schools in Busoni, Butihinda, Gitega, Rumonge, Muramvya, Giheta, Mutaho, Makebuko, Bukirasazi, Bugendana and Ryansoro – regions that had experienced high rates of early pregnancies. In 2018 and 2019, FAWE Burundi trained 12 school aunts and fathers who then went ahead and trained other new mentors. Currently, the revised training module has already been used to train 120 new school aunt and fathers, 114 representatives of Child Protection Committees and 3 social workers who will support school aunts and fathers in the project.
The stages of this project are still ongoing. Suggestion boxes have been placed in all the 121 implementing schools in order to allow students to anonymously share their stories of sexual violence.