|© UNICEF video|
|Students line up in the schoolyard of Inpres Tenau Primary School in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara Province.|
By Steve Nettleton and Leo Wahyudi S.
KUPANG, Indonesia, 9 October 2006 – Hundreds of students in red and white uniforms line up neatly in the schoolyard of Inpres Tenau Primary School. It seems a typical start for a day at any school in eastern Indonesia.
But Inpres Tenau is one of 20 schools in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara Province, implementing a pilot program to reduce abuse against children in the classroom. It is part of UNICEF’s child-friendly schools concept, which aims to provide healthy, protective environments that promote quality teaching and learning.
“Every morning when they come to class, we the teachers greet the students first, which is quite unusual because it’s supposed to be the students who greet the teachers,” says the school principal, Marselinus Juang.
Setting an example
“But we try to set an example,” he adds. “We always remind students to behave well and be friendly towards others at schools, at home and in the community.”
|© UNICEF video|
|At child-friendly Inpres Tenau Primary School, punishment takes a back seat to encouragement.|
As the children break formation and head for their classes, they are given something rarely seen in Indonesian schools: a good morning handshake from their teachers. It is a new approach in making schools a friendlier place for students.
A recent survey here revealed a worrying trend of abuse. Many of the children have been exposed to domestic violence at home. Most come from low income and poorly educated families. Their parents work as labourers at a nearby cement factory or porters at the local harbour, or as fishermen or farmers.
Respect for teachers and students
At Inpres Tenau, punishment takes a back seat to encouragement. “It’s very friendly and open, and everyone respects one another,” says UNICEF Child Protection Officer Benny Pili R. “That means respect for the teacher and also for the students.”
First grader Maria Karae says she looks forward to coming to class. The open environment has helped her explore her talents. She recently won a writing and reading competition and received a notebook as a prize. Outside her classroom, a colourful notice hanging on the wall reads ‘Child-friendly area’.
“I am happy to be here because I have many friends, and the teachers are nice,” she says.