Uni partners with Save The Children in training child protection officers

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The University of Bedfordshire is working in partnership with Save the Children to train child protection officers in India.

The pilot project will train officers from Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal in core child protection skills and competency, and if successful, four other key posts within Indian District Child Protection Units will receive training.

Staff from the university have been involved in developing the material used for training as well delivering the training in India.

The government’s child protection system (ICPS) in India was launched in 2010 to provide protection services to vulnerable families. 444 million children were identified as being at risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in the country.

Dr Patricia Hynes, joint head of applied social studies at the university and who co-ordinated and led the project in close collaboration with Save the Children, said: “This project is a great example of what we do at the university; it truly is putting the best research into practice out in the field. The collaboration of different members of the department – social workers, academics and researchers - has resulted in an excellent training course.”

Dr Jaya Ghosh, lecturer in criminology with a long experience of child protection in the country, is currently in Kolkata delivering the training with support from Save the Children.

She said: “Replicating training from the UK context to an Indian context was both challenging and fascinating. While most of the presentations worked really well we found there were some aspects we had to adapt for the local audience.

“This has been an excellent opportunity for me to work on child protection in India which is close to my heart.”

It is anticipated that the pilot project will be the first step in a roadmap of practical, competency based training that over time can be assessed, accredited and integrated into a National Skills and Qualifications Framework (NSQF) in India.

Save The Children consulted with staff in the system to refine and agree Job Descriptions and to draft National Occupational Standards to match the five roles.

Jane Calder, who is the Regional Advisor on Child Protection for Asia for Save the Children said: “I am so excited to be attending the first training organised under this partnership with University of Bedfordshire. The staff within the Integrated Child Protection Scheme in India are expected to carry out complex work to protect children in India but with very limited training to date.

“This approach is systematic, based on actual roles and work that staff within the different positions are expected to fulfil and aims to ultimately find a way to accredit staff for the quality work they are doing. I am sure it will be of interest to Social Welfare ministries and Save the Children country teams elsewhere many of whom are looking for ways of strengthening the national child protection system in their countries.

“The University of Bedfordshire was an obvious choice of partners, with its international social work experience and its attitude of cooperation and partnership.”

The pilot project involved collaboration with academics from across the Department of Applied Social Studies including Richard Fountain, Lecturer in Social Work, who developed most of the material used for the training as well as Patrick Ayre and Dr Louise Grant.

Contributions were also made by Claire Cody, a Research Fellow in Youth Participation, Amanda Thorpe, joint Head of Applied Social Studies, and Executive Dean for Health & Social Sciences, Professor Michael Preston-Shoot.