UNICEF’s Child-Friendly School Model Lauded

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Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones(Left), UNICEF’s Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Tom Olsen (Centre) and?? Consultant?? Psychologist, Dr. Kerry King (Right)??at the start of the?? training workshop, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, for principals and teachers of primary schools that will soon introduce the Schools Positive Behaviour Management Project (formerly called the Child Friendly Schools Project).????

A model developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help schools across the region provide an alternative to corporal punishment was today lauded by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones.

Addressing the start of a two-day training workshop for principals and teachers at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Minister Jones noted that the framework (formerly known as the Child Friendly School) and now called the Schools Positive Behaviour Management Project, indicated that the school was [to be viewed as] a significant personal and social environment in the lives of its students.

??"This Schools Positive Behaviour Management Project ensures every child is welcomed in an environment that is physically safe, emotionally secure and psychologically enabling," Mr. Jones, explained in offering reasons for the name change.

Acknowledging that teachers were the single most important factor in creating an effective and inclusive classroom, he reminded them that children though natural learners, could have their capacity for learning undermined and sometimes destroyed.

"A Positive Behaviour Management School recognises, encourages and supports children’s growing capacities as learners by providing a school culture, teaching behaviours and curriculum content that are focused on learning and the learner.

"Schools in Barbados are indeed child friendly.?? The ability of a school to … call itself child-friendly is directly linked to the support, participation and collaboration it receives from families. Child-friendly schools aim to develop a learning environment in which children are motivated … Staff members are friendly and welcoming to children and attend to all their health and safety needs."??

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A cross section of participants at the??training workshop, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, for principals and teachers of primary schools that will soon introduce the??Schools Positive Behaviour Management Project (formerly called the Child Friendly Schools Project).??

Principals and their staff were told that being part of the UNICEF’s Schools Positive Behaviour Management Project suggested that all social systems and agencies which affected children would be based on the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It was also explained that such rights-based schools must help children realise their right to a basic education of good quality; learn to face the challenges of the new century; enhance their health and well-being; guarantee them safe and protective spaces for learning, free from violence and abuse; raise teacher morale and motivation; and mobilise community support for education.

??Essential aspects of a rights-based school were also outlined by the Education Minister as he pointed out that a framework could be a powerful tool for helping to fulfill the rights of children and providing them with an education of good quality.

Mr. Jones declared, that such schools did not exclude, discriminate, or have stereotypes on the basis of difference and; provided education that was free and compulsory, affordable and accessible, especially to families and children at risk. He also indicated they respected diversity and ensured equality of learning for all children and responded to diversity by meeting the differing circumstances and needs of children.

??Meanwhile, UNICEF’s Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Tom Olsen, stated that going to school was much more than just reading and writing.

He said: "Education goes way beyond desks and books… Child-Friendly schools look after a child’s health, safety and well-being.

They contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.?? In a Child Friendly school, a child’s learning needs are not separated from his/her health and nutrition. A child has a chance to get vaccinated, eat a nourishing lunch and be taught important life skills to protect him/her from diseases such as HIV and AIDS."

Echoing similar sentiments to Minister Jones, Mr. Olsen stressed that the approach to quality education started from positioning the child and his or her rights at the centre of all discussions and decisions related to their schooling. And, he urged principals and teachers to recognise that the "most single important factor for success" was for them "to create an environment so present and future students want to go to school and become learners."

Following the workshop and by the start of the next school term, some 11 more schools would have rolled out the Schools Positive Behaviour Management Project.??jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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