The Child-Friendly School framework is a means of translating the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) into school management and classroom practice, and ensuring the right of all children to have access to quality basic education. The Child-Friendly Schools approach is already familiar in the CEECIS region, where it is used widely as a foundation for the development of education standards relevant to national contexts, including in Azerbaijan, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan.
The Child-Friendly School framework is used to address issues of access to basic education as well as issues related to the quality, efficiency, governance and management of education systems in CEECIS. The Child-Friendly School framework supports the achievement of UNICEF’s goals, objectives and strategies for basic education in CEECIS through its five sets of principles. More specifically, for schools and education systems in CEECIS to be child-friendly means that:
• They are inclusive of all children, particularly children from ethnic minorities (Roma), children with special educational needs, girls - in some countries, and children from disadvantaged social background.
• They offer good quality teaching and learning processes with individual instruction appropriate to the developmental level, abilities and learning capacities of all children, thus ensuring that no child is left behind; the curriculum and education content are relevant to the needs of the society – its social cohesion and labour market.
• They provide a safe, healthy and protective school environment in which children are protected from violence, abuse and harm and in which essential life skills and values of respect, tolerance and democracy are promoted.
• They are gender-sensitive and promote gender equality in both enrolment and achievement; adequate attention must be given to the situation of girls in some countries but also to the increasing feminization of upper-secondary and higher education throughout the region.
• They promote the participation of stakeholders – children, families, communities – in all aspects of school life; they encourage the involvement of parents and families through the development or strengthening of effective parent-teachers associations (PTAs); they foster local partnerships in education through working with the civil society – NGOs and community-based organizations.
Application of the CFS approach differs according to each country’s cultural, social and economic environment, yet Child-Friendly Schools will, in general, share these principles and a general set of characteristics set out in the toolkit (see right sidebar).