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Engaging ethically with children abroad

Why engage with children abroad?

The well-being and education of children around the world and the development of their teachers are essential to the advancement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1: No Poverty, 3: Good Health and Well-being 4: Quality Education, 5: Gender Equality and 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

As a sustainable development organisation, we’re committed to achieving these, and other, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For this reason, our management, staff and participants partner with local organisations on a range of sustainable development projects. Some of these projects include child well-being and education projects where our staff and participants engage with children. 

Risks of engaging with children abroad 

Engaging with children in the context of international sustainable development projects carries several risks.

Short-term child care providers, untrained or poorly trained child care providers or child care providers with criminal intent can all cause children harm. 

Orphanages, also known as institutional residential care facilities,  can also cause harm to children. This is especially true when these institutions are run by persons with criminal intent. For more information, see our stance on orphanages.

In addition, there’s the risk of disempowering local schools and teachers by replacing the need for local, skilled and trained teachers with international personnel. 

What we do to minimise and eliminate these risks

Our aim is always to first do no harm. Therefore, we have strict control measures in place to effectively minimise and eliminate the risks associated with engaging with children abroad when contributing to child well-being and education initiatives. 

We prioritise the well-being of all children and vulnerable adults involved in our projects through our zero-tolerance Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. This policy includes strict rules regarding how staff and participants should behave towards children. Appropriate and non-appropriate actions are also described. In addition, the policy also includes photography and videography guidelines created to prevent disclosing the identity of any child. The policy also outlines communication procedures for suspected issues. 

We prioritise the empowerment of local institutions, such as schools, and communities of individuals, such as school administrators, teachers and parents through our Empowerment Principles. 

All our sustainable development projects around the world are reviewed annually and assessed to ensure GVI is only providing support for projects and partners that are striving towards ethical practices.

Our safeguards for engaging with children
  • We don’t condone or send participants to work in institutional residential care facilities.
  • We don't condone or offer participants the opportunity to engage in medical procedures due to our "first, do no harm policy." Read more here.
  • We don’t condone or allow participants to work specifically with highly vulnerable people, including adults and children with physical or mental disabilities. 
  • All staff and participants have to undertake background checks prior to joining the programs.
  • All partners must review and agree to comply with our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and either have, or agree to develop, their own. 
  • All staff and participants are trained on our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy.
  • We have three organisational child protection officers in senior positions.
  • We have child protection officers in every location.
Our safeguards for educational projects
  • Each project is designed and implemented collaboratively with local partner organisations. These local partner organisations direct the role of GVI, our personnel, and our tasks within our own safeguarding limits. 
  • The roles and responsibilities of each party are clearly defined, and there is a set structure in place for review of the project and partnership.
  • The vast majority of our educational projects are extracurricular in nature. Some are also designed to help reinforce concepts taught in the curriculum. In some locations, and at some times, our work is carried out in a school setting within school hours. At other times, our work is carried out in settings outside the school and are offered as optional, additional opportunities for young students and the wider community. Subjects may include:
    • business-specific subjects
    • digital technology skills
    • early childhood development
    • english language
    • environmental education
    • gender equality
    • mathematics
    • physical education
    • public health
    • sustainable development.
  • To prevent dependency, and ensure GVI is not replacing local teachers, the local teacher may not attempt to delegate their official duties to GVI. If this happens, it must be addressed with the school directly and resolved. If the issue is not suitably resolved, GVI will, unfortunately, need to terminate the support agreement. 
  • GVI works with local partner organisations to ensure that the educational development of the students is tracked. We also look to ensure that our resources and activities are applied to best effect and result in proven development and learning outcomes. 
  • To prevent attachment issues, our participants and staff are introduced as teachers or teaching assistants. Their role and the limits of their role are clearly described, and strict protocols regarding interaction with the children are enforced. 
  • Participants are trained and their proficiency is checked by our staff before they are permitted to actively participate in any educational activity involving children.
  • A GVI participant may, upon justified request by the school, take the role of a classroom assistant, in support of, and under the supervision of, a local teacher or multiple teachers, the school and GVI staff.  
  • A GVI participant may, upon justified request by the school, lead school classes where the school doesn’t have the skills required to lead the specific class. In such cases, we ensure we follow the local curriculum if available and simultaneously supply training opportunities for the teachers and local community to build the local capacity in the subject area. Example subjects may include English language and digital technology skills.
Our commitment to continuous improvement

While we have put these strong measures in place for our project initiatives that work directly with children, we acknowledge that best practices in international sustainable development are continuously developing. Therefore, we continue to review and refine our policies and operations as global knowledge and best practice evolves.

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