Educators, including Technical Officers, Principals and Teachers are undergoing two days of training on the goals and understanding of the key features that comprise the UNICEF sponsored Child Friendly School (CFS) initiative and how to properly monitor its implementation.
The workshop, which got on the way on Monday, is being facilitated by Melena Fontaine, CFS Focal Point, Dominica.
Delivering remarks at the opening ceremony on Monday, Director of Education Jacintha Pringle told participants the Child Friendly School Initiative (CFS) is concerned with every facet of the child’s life, and seeks to ensure that basic needs are met so as to prevent students being at a disadvantage.
In underscoring its importance, the Director of Education says there is much interest in the programme, especially since it adopts principles that make schools child friendly.
“School is a place where children spend a lot of time, hence it must be a happy place to which they (students) come willingly, knowing that they will be loved, cared for and taught in a happy and caring environment.”
Pringle called for the initiative to be sustained, and warned it risks losing funding from its main donor UNICEF, if not properly monitored.
“Ministry officials are to be trained so that they are aware of what is expected of them when they visit a school’s compound, what they are to look for, how they can assist principals and teachers in fostering a CFS environment. Principals and key teachers will be trained. Those in turn will train the remaining teachers on the school’s compound,” she said.
Declaring the workshop open, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Gender Affairs Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro says the initiative takes into consideration every element of a child’s life, and the involvement of principals, teachers and support staff is critical.
“As policy makers and technicians of education we are well aware of the weak links in some students’ lives. We know that if what is taught in school is not supported beyond school, then it is extremely difficult to move beyond square one.
“CFS is an all inclusive initiative which encompasses all avenues of a student’s life. CFS seeks to strengthen every link between school, home and community by supporting the establishment of PTA’s as well as offering a hopeful solution for success that goes beyond academics and includes the positive holistic development of the child. This is powerful!”
Twenty eight primary schools have so far adopted the CFS Initiative, which was officially launched in Antigua in November, 2011, and plans are to include secondary institutions. A pilot programme will be implemented this year at Irene B. Williams and Pares Secondary Schools, a decision that is welcomed and has received the approval of Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro.
“I am pleased that this programme is now rolled out to include secondary schools as well. Change can be effected at any age and so those students who have not had the benefit of the CFS initiative in primary schools can now be exposed to all of the positives and will be given the opportunity to change their behaviors for the better.
“We hope that this CFS will not only complement but also augment the initiatives we are also discussing with the Ministry of National Security in our efforts to curb deviant behavior and violence in our schools,” she outlined.
Violence prevention, why interventions fail, the CFS model and what is expected of CFS schools are among the topics for discussion at the two-day workshop.
The Child Friendly Initiative, which is child centred, child seeking and which promotes democratic principles and involvement, also integrates Health and Family Life Education.