|© UNICEF/ HQ04-0950/Noorani|
|Students at a UNICEF-supported school raise their hands in class. This school is in the Krindig camp on the outskirts of El Geneina, capital of West Darfur.|
By Phuong Nguyen
DARFUR, Sudan, 5 October 2005 – Teachers in Darfur are learning how to make their classrooms ‘child-friendly’, thanks to important training offered by UNICEF.
The ongoing training in Darfur is preparing instructors to make their classrooms a place of learning and comfort for their students – many of whom have suffered gravely in the civil conflict.
The objective of the training workshops is to build the teachers’ capacity to learn how to detect children’s feelings and experiences, and how best to respond to their needs in a supportive manner.
UNICEF recognizes unhealthy disciplinary actions – such as beating with or without sticks and whips – are taken by teachers and headmasters against students considered ‘unruly’ far too often.
Children particularly affected by the ongoing conflict in Darfur are further traumatized when at the receiving end of such unethical and misguided disciplinary actions, often taken by well-intentioned teachers who are not aware of the distressing consequences of their action.
“I've learned that the old-fashioned way of managing students – hitting, whipping – is not appropriate anymore as it is traumatic and damaging to a child,” said one participant and educator, Idris Ali Mohamed Haider.
“I now clearly have learned from UNICEF how to deal with traumatized students: by changing the old belief system, by talking to the student, by building the confidence of the student, by praising the student for what she or he does well.”
These training sessions will ensure that more child-friendly environments are available in Darfur’s schools and makeshift classrooms, especially those in the refugee camps.
A child-friendly school or recreation centre functions in the interest of the entire child, which includes his or her health, nutrition and overall well-being.
It’s not a long leap of faith to believe that if all teachers receive such training, all classrooms could become learning environments that nurture creativity, curiosity, fun and high energy – important characteristics in the development of every child.
In addition to this type of training, UNICEF is also supporting teacher training in methodology, peace education, hygiene education and HIV/AIDS.