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New OU course to help aid workers keep young & vulnerable safe

1 November 2019

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Online training to help humanitarian and development workers worldwide to fight abuse has been created by The Open University for the Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA).

Called Safeguarding Essentials, the course attracted more than 2,300 enrolments within three weeks of its launch on the HLA’s global learning platform.

Safeguarding has been a major concern in the aid sector following a succession of highly publicised scandals.

As a free, online resource the course will be accessible to small charities and those based in remote areas, as well as the large NGOs and government agencies.

Challenging myths

Elisa Malnis is head of programme funding and business development in the OU’s International Development Office (IDO), which led the development of the course.

She said it was needed because studies have suggested that many aid workers still lack knowledge and confidence to deal with safeguarding issues.

“There are myths surrounding safeguarding, things like ‘you can’t report something if you don’t have all the facts’ or ‘you first have to obtain the consent of the survivor’, and so cases can go unreported because people don’t understand what they should do.

Safeguarding Essentials will equip humanitarian and development workers at all levels to understand what the non-negotiables of safeguarding conduct are, recognise safeguarding concerns and report them, so we can stop the spiral of non-action which leaves victims suffering.”

The impetus for the course has come from an advisory group of agencies led by the HLA, including UNICEF, Oxfam and Save the Children, who worked with the OU on course content and learning objectives.

Ms Malnis said the course is also an opportunity for the OU to reaffirm its own organisational commitment to safeguarding.

“As well our expertise in open and distance learning, the OU is also a committed safeguarding player,” she said. “We have introduced a new safeguarding policy covering the OU’s international development work globally.”

The OU is now in discussions with a number of organisations about developing an advanced level course on safeguarding leadership.

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To find out more about our work, or to discuss a potential project, please contact:

International Development Research Office
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)1908 858502
E: international-development-research@open.ac.uk