The first child friendly schools open in Moldova
Chisinau, September 1, 2010 – Today, the Ministry of Education launches the "CHILD FRIENDLY SCHOOL INITIATIVE" - a comprehensive package aiming at improving the quality of education for all children. It promotes a better physical environment, better teaching, a modern curriculum and the involvement of the community.
Indoor toilets with shiny tiles instead of wooden cabins behind the school and an efficient heating system, but also various teaching materials, specially trained teachers, a non-violent environment: these are the elements that should be present in a modern school. A child studying in such a school will not only have better physical conditions, but also a more friendly environment, centered on her needs and aiming at developing her personality and talents.
"We want all children in Moldova to benefit from such schools" said Leonid Bujor, Minister of Education at the opening ceremony of the school. "This is in line with the European aspirations of Moldova and progressive approach to education meaning inclusiveness, quality and equal access for all children. There is a long way to go, but we can succeed if we mobilize international, national and local partners from the public and private sectors, as they did in Molesti and Sofrincani" .
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, the Veolia Environnement Foundation, MSIF and communities worked together to contribute to the development of these model schools.
"UNICEF welcomes the opening of the first child-friendly schools. We are confident that the schools from Molesti and Sofrincani will become a positive example of ensuring appropriate conditions for education. Most importantly, these models will increase the access to and quality of education for all children, including the most vulnerable - a fundamental right for every child", said UNICEF Representative in Moldova, Alexandra Yuster, at the event. The Ministry of Education and UNICEF estimate that it will take about five years to train all the teachers, through university or on-the-job training.
“This project is part of a longstanding collaboration between the Veolia Environnement Foundation and UNICEF. Our priority was to provide the children with a better access to basic services such as water, sanitation and heating" said Thierry Vandevelde, Executive Officer of the Veolia Environnement Foundation. “The involvement of the community in this project was essential to the success and sustainability of the project”, concluded Vandevelde.
The primary school enrolment rate in rural Moldova remains high at 90 percent, but it still means that one child out of 10 is not enrolled. The enrolment rate is also decreasing in secondary education, with significant discrepancies between rural and urban areas. Children with disabilities, very poor children and Roma children are most at risk of exclusion from the mainstream education system. Currently, only half of Roma children and just one third of children with disabilities attend school. All children, including those with disabilities, coming from poor families or Roma children, will have access to education in a child friendly school.
The child-friendly school concept, introduced in 1990s, is based on the principles of child rights as expressed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The framework promotes child-seeking, child-centered, gender-sensitive, inclusive, community-involved, protective and healthy approaches to schooling and out-of-school education. These approaches are intended to increase the learning effectiveness, efficiency and reach of education systems and to enable all children to realize their right to learn. The Child Friendly School approach is being used in more than 60 countries in the world, including Thailand, Armenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova and others.
The 440,000 school children and 37,000 teachers in all of Moldova’s schools will benefit from this initiative, as all teaching staff will be trained over the next five years. It will, however, take many more years, to renovate the schools as the cost is very high. Support from external donors, from the public and private sector and communities will be important.
The Veolia Environnement Foundation supports community-oriented projects contributing to sustainable development in France and other countries in three main areas: outreach, workforce development and environmental conservation. The originality of its approach is that each project is supported by a sponsor who is a Veolia employee. The Foundation also encourages volunteering of skills, contributing the know-how of the Veolia Environnement employees to its partners, associations and institutions. Since its creation in 2004, the Veolia Environnement Foundation supported close to 1000 projects in France and internationally.