Plan – Learn without Fear Campaign
Plan in India is part of Plan International, one of the world’s largest community development organisations. Plan is one of the oldest and largest international organizations focusing on the rights and protection of children around the globe. Through a range of programs and the support of international donors, Plan works with over 3.5 million families and their communities in nearly 50 countries. In India they currently work in 11 states, across 5000 communities and have touched the lives of over a million children. Many children in India experience various forms of violence, exploitation and abuse. Children are also subjected to corporal punishment at school and forced into child marriage. Plan and its partners work to create protective and supportive environments in which both girls and boys are safe from violence and exploitation, their rights are protected and each child has the opportunity to reach his/her full potential.
The challenge here was three-three fold. The first three constituted Cruel and humiliating forms of physical & psychological punishment, gender-based violence and bullying. All three remain a daily reality for millions of children in India. Each of these violation of children’s rights come with their own set of barriers, and how society covers up for it’s vices. Teachers in India have long followed the carrot and the cane, and for them it is seen as an acceptable form of behavior correction. Also, since decisions in schools are made by teachers themselves, any talk of corporal punishment starts with resistance. Hence, tackling the issue carefully was imperative. The next societal vice, sexual harassment & assault, goes largely unreported, largely because ‘sex’ is such a taboo in the Indian mind. It being the taboo it is, also means that when cases like these do get reported, the victim is often further traumatized, albeit this time by the society itself. Bullying too has it’s own stigma attached to it. It too doesn’t get reported for the fear of being alienated and further being targeted.
Since in all three cases, the first attempt is a cover-up, the first phase of the campaign had to be, to come out and report. We need to know the devil, before we could tame it. Also, the challenge here was to create a campaign which not only reached teachers, parents and children but to say it in a manner which would be heard by all and brought about the necessary change, both in action and in mindset.
We launched the ‘Learn without Fear’ campaign. It targeted these 3 of the most common and damaging forms of violence in schools. This was a grass root sensitization campaign, commissioned with Print Ads, Audio Visual films, Posters, Calendars, Newsletters, Events and School Workshops. The idea behind this communication was simple. We took real life stories of incidents from across the country and told them through the eyes of the victim. Showed them how the definition of these everyday objects changed. How a child saw these objects differently after having being subject to violence, that the meaning of these everyday objects was now altered for them.. How a pen, a pencil or even a bat could bring back nightmares, and dent a person for all time to come. How a child lost his innocence. How in the end, the meaning of life itself changes.