From left to right -Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones; UNICEF Communications Specialist, Patrick Knight; and former Minister of State, Patrick Todd, at the official opening of St. Ambrose primary school. (Image: C. Pitt/BGIS)

The St. Ambrose primary school is the latest educational institution to officially launch the Child Friendly School (CFS) Programme, in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

This initiative was launched simultaneously with the official opening of the school last Friday, and is aimed at transforming classroom culture through the use of alternative practices to corporal punishment.

Speaking at the launch and official opening ceremony, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, noted that one important aspect of this project was the development of positive relationships between the school and family.?? "This relationship must be maintained if we are to see the benefits associated with this very important programme," he stated.

UNICEF Communications Specialist, Patrick Knight, was also on hand for the launch of the CFS. He stated that the CFS initiative was tailored to meet the specific requirements of the individual schools where it was implemented.??

"When we speak of the Child Friendly model, we acknowledge there is no one way to build a school. Each country, each community, each school has varying needs and, therefore, need a range of options," Mr. Knight asserted.

There are currently 10 primary schools and one secondary school on the island which have embraced the CFS concept.?? It was first introduced in 2006 at the Hillaby Turner’s Hall Primary School.?? The objectives of the CFS are: to train teachers in sound

blueprints regarding motivation and techniques of behavior management and classroom control; and to train them to develop educational material that is stimulating to pupils. It is also aimed at enhancing their ability levels and improving the academic performance of students, in a non-threatening environment.

The initiative also seeks to develop a participatory process in which children and their parents are carefully involved in decision making about school issues, including educational goals and disciplinary rules.?? Along with this, it is meant to establish peer support programmes for children that utilise techniques which encourage acceptable behavior and increase and improve the level of parental involvement in the moral upbringing and education of their children.??

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