Let's Breakthrough, Inc.

Transforming Schools to address the culture of violence

Lead Organization

Let's Breakthrough, Inc.

New York, New York, United States


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

When the UN adopted Agenda 2030[1] for sustainable development, it placed gender equality, inclusive and equitable quality education at the heart of its concerns, and addressed violence against girls and boys. But widespread school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) undermines this agenda.An estimated 246 million[2] children experience violence in/around schools every year. In India, at least 65% are physically punished[3], while 3 out of 4 in Uganda face violence in schools. Unequal gender norms and power relations feed violence with sometimes irreversible consequences for children’s well-being. Girls are particularly vulnerable.Breakthrough and Raising Voices work in India and Uganda within schools and the larger ecosystem- individuals, institutions, and cultural norms, to build an enabling environment for children. Along with children’s well-being, this leads to better learning outcomes and earning potentials. Our work makes schools a transformative space ensuring safety for children, and creates networks that influence children’s well-being and safety.

Problem Statement

One in every two children in the world faced violence in the past year alone, says the WHO; girls are particularly vulnerable - 20% of girls face sexual violence globally, each year. This all-pervasive violence enforced by unequal power dynamics has far reaching impacts on society, on the well-being and development of children, and on the long term social and economic capacity of individuals, particularly women and girls.Social norms that perpetuate toxic notions of masculinity, endorse use of violence for discipline, and reinforce gender based discrimination are central to this problem. These norms sustain violence over generations – it is estimated that experiencing or witnessing physical or sexual abuse increases the risk of perpetrating violence by up to 144%. Working with the school system provides us with a unique opportunity; after all, school is a space where more than a billion children convene on any given day. Governments, parents, school staff and communities are all invested in ensuring that schools assure the holistic development of children. By working to reduce violence in schools, particularly gender based violence; we have a chance of changing the current narrative where 246 million children experience violence (conservative estimate) in and around their school every year. In Uganda & India, facing violence is a harsh reality for most children, with at least 3 out of 4 facing violence in school or at home. We have the unique opportunity to change this, with evidence-based methods ready to scale.

Solution Overview

The project uses schools as transformative spaces within which students, teachers, parents and communities are engaged to challenge existing norms propagating violence and gender-based-discrimination. Using proven inputs: RV’s GST, Breakthrough’s gender equity curriculum plus media communication – the project will change the operational culture of schools to reduce SRGBV.Initially, we will work directly with schools and teacher training bodies across 6 states of India and 1000 schools in Uganda, to demonstrate proof of concept. By phase 3, we will scale up the program across the two geographies by partnering with governments, introducing it across all state-run schools. The Gender Equity Curriculum changes norms and creates new opportunities through human rights frames and a series of classroom-level debates and activities. The GST trains teacher-protagonists to find allies, empower students, and bring whole-school change over 18 months of low-resource activities.Preventing SRBGV can improve educational outcomes, foster lifelong learning, and help train responsible global citizens. We aim to shape a new generation that has the necessary skills to navigate life without the use of violence - to create a new norm. This also has economic benefits - school violence costs India $7.4bn/year. In the long term, benefits would be apparent across society; in the well-being, development and productivity of people of all genders.

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Project Funders

  • Ikea Foundation
  • Echidna Giving
  • Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives

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