|© UNICEF Skopje/2009|
|In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and around the world, child-friendly schools represent a UNICEF-supported approach to education reform from a child rights perspective.|
Education experts from the Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States are meeting 24-27 April in Geneva to discuss how to provide quality education for all girls and boys through child-friendly schools. Here is one in a series of related stories from the region.
SKOPJE, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 22 April 2009 – Last month, 55 mathematics teachers participated in the first round of training for mentor-teachers here, as part of a new professional development programme aimed at improving mathematics and literacy instruction in this country.
The programme is being supported by UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Bureau for the Development of Education. It was developed after a detailed analysis of the grade 1-3 curricula identified why Macedonian students are underperforming in international math and literacy tests.
Emphasis on critical thinking
“Research has revealed that in countries with low learning outcomes in math, the emphasis in the classroom is all too often on acquiring basic knowledge through memorization, rather than through developing critical thinking skills,” said UNICEF’s Representative in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Sheldon Yett.
“Increasing students’ learning outcomes requires that teachers make a shift in their teaching methods,” he added.
The teacher development programme includes training in ‘Thinking Mathematics for the Early Grades’ and ‘Teaching Reading for Comprehension and Writing in the Early Grades’. It recognizes that all children have the right to a quality education and acknowledges the role of the teacher as the single most important factor in creating learning opportunities.
This first round of training focused specifically on mathematics instruction. Similar trainings on early-grade literacy for future mentor-teachers will be held in May, June and August.
Part of a broader initiative
Fifteen members of the Bureau for the Development of Education also attended the trainings to strengthen their support for early-grade teachers across the country. Mentor-teachers will roll out the programme and act as mentors for other teachers of grades 1-3 during the 2009-10 school year.
The professional development programme for Macedonian teachers is part of the broader Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) initiative supported by UNICEF.
The global CFS initiative is an approach to education reform from a child rights perspective. The CFS model promotes healthy and protective environments for learning and strives to provide quality basic education in both everyday circumstances and emergencies. Child-friendly schools contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and ‘Education for All’.
They act in the interests of the ‘whole’ child, are inclusive and gender-sensitive, and provide school-based health and nutrition services, safe water and suitable sanitation facilities.