His Excellency, Dr. Babalou, Vice Minister of Education in International Affairs
His Excellency, Dr. Hosseini Advisor to Deputy Minister of Education in Secondary School
UNICEF colleagues from MENA Regional Office and Morroco,
Colleague from International Youth Foundation,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and Welcome,
Schooling is the one experience that most children worldwide have in common and the most common means by which societies prepare their young for the future. For too many children, though, school is not always a positive experience. Some endure difficult conditions, like extremely hot or cold temperatures in the classroom or primitive sanitation. Others lack competent teachers and appropriate curricula. Still others may struggle with discrimination, harassment and even violence. These conditions are not conducive to learning or development, and no child should have to experience them.
UNICEF is profoundly committed to securing safe and quality education for each and every child, irrespective of his or her circumstances. We understand that schools are not ’one size fits all’ institutions, and that children have diverse needs. Various school models illustrate ways to improve the quality of education. However, it is the Child Friendly School models that have emerged as the most comprehensive in their approach and the most widespread, both in the number of countries in which they have been put into practice and the geographical distribution of those countries.
It is at the school level that equity can be best achieved and monitored. The UNICEF Child Friendly Schools (CFS) approach introduced globally since 1999 has provided a framework for school based initiatives in the region. Several CFS initiatives are being implemented in the MENA region with great efforts towards institutionalizing child-friendly schools principles in order to build an inclusive school ethos and learning environments that promote quality education. This is in line with Sustainable Development Goal no.4 on Quality Education. Child Friendly Schools have several components to observe but I would like to emphasize three which are considered as the core principles.
Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) provide a safe and protective learning environment for children. As well as protecting children from physical danger and health risks, a child-friendly school pays special attention to the children’s emotional, psychological and physical well-being, protecting them from verbal and emotional abuse and the trauma of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, ethnic prejudice or intrusiveness by teachers and peers. This is in line with Sustainable Development Goal no. 16 on peace, justice and strong Institution which includes prevention of child abuse.
Child-Friendly Schools are Child-Centered and Inclusive. Learning is central to education and, in line with the child-centred principle, the child as learner is central to the process of teaching and learning. In other words, the classroom process should not be one in which children are passive recipients of knowledge dispensed by a sole authority, the teacher. Rather it should be an interactive process in which children are active participants in observing, exploring, listening, reasoning, questioning and ‘coming to know’.
A Child Friendly School is a community-friendly and family-friendly school. It builds relationships with parents and caregivers who have primary responsibility for the well-being of children at all stages of their development. This is particularly critical in the case of families made vulnerable by poverty, disease, conflict, lack of water, fuel or other resources, or in families in isolated communities not reached by limited government services; and in ethnically marginalized or excluded families.
Your excellences, ladies and gentlemen, there is no single way to make a school child friendly. As highlighted in the global evaluation of CFS programming as well as in national evaluations of implemented CFS initiatives, there are still gaps in unifying school based management approaches and ensuring effective monitoring of these school based interventions. The need to improve the collection and use of data at school level have been repeatedly highlighted as a key challenge affecting school capacity to achieve equity results.
This calls for interventions that further link monitoring and action at school level as a means to empower schools to evaluate and be accountable for their actions and results continuously, thereby allowing schools to improve their effectiveness over time. This in order to address the complex factors (bottlenecks and barriers) affecting equity in education.
This workshop will focus on ‘INSAF’ framework or ’equity in Arabic’ – a framework that strengthens the capacity of schools to monitor, analyze, act on, and manage equitable access and learning, including in humanitarian contexts. This approach is based on two interconnected factors: School based action and school based monitoring and evaluation, which reinforce each other to improve equity in access and learning.
Finally, I would like to thank our colleagues at the Ministry of Education for their interest and enthusiasm in the concept of child friendly school model. Certainly the success of our work in implementing the CFS model largely depends on close collaboration and partnerships among all relevant actors in education sector. Key will be here how we move forward in ensuring that the work at the school level is effective and ensure adequate learning by linking together school based monitoring and action.
I would like to thank our facilitators from UNICEF MENA and International Youth Foundation and wish you all good luck in this workshop.