Partners meet to discuss child-friendly schools in Africa
Maputo, 21 August 2006- Partners from nine African countries, including Government counterparts, UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Hamburg Society and others are meeting in Maputo from 21 to 24 August 2006 to discuss better ways to improve the quality of basic education in Africa.
The workshop brings together representatives from 6 African countries where a Child-Friendly Schools programme is being implemented –Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Participants from Tanzania, Swaziland and Zambia are also attending the event.
The Child-Friendly Schools programme is part of the Schools for Africa campaign launched in 2004 by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, UNICEF and the Hamburg Society to provide quality basic education for all African children. This is achieved by training teachers and community workers to help all children to attend school and complete each grade, which will help them to learn the skills they need to fully participate in their communities and to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. The model also aims to create child-friendly and safe school environments where care and support can be provided. The students also benefit from quality learning material and good water and sanitation facilities.
“Child-friendly schools can be a model for many countries in the region, a model that we should support and expand with all education development partners”, says UNICEF Representative in Mozambique Leila Pakkala.
The number of children in primary schools in Mozambique has been increasing steadily, from 1.7 million in 1997 to over 3.8 million in 2006. Yet many children are still missing out on education. More than 650,000 children remain out of school and two-thirds of primary school age children leave school before completing grade five. About 70 per cent of the schools don’t have adequate sanitation and the majority of schools do not teach comprehensive life skills-based education that promotes healthy behaviors.
As a response, the Mozambican government, with the support of UNICEF, introduced the first phase of the Child-Friendly Schools programme in the country last year in Maganja da Costa district, Zambézia Province, one of the districts with the highest gender gap in school attendance between boys and girls. The programme involves the implementation of a minimum quality package with the following elements:
From 2007 to 2009 the programme will be extended to all of the primary schools in seven model districts in Provinces of Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambézia, Tete, Manica, Sofala and Gaza. The programme aims to reach at least 300,000 learners in 1,000 primary schools. Evidence from the model will then be used to inform national scale-up and education policies.