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Child-friendly-schools to benefit 300,000 children

© UNICEF Mozambique/ Thierry Delvigne-Jean
A child-friendly school ensures that all boys and girls have access to school, particularly the most vulnerable.

Maputo, 11 October 2007- Over 300.000 children will benefit from better education and improved school environment as a result of the Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) programme in Mozambique. The programme started in Maganja da Costa, Zambezia province, in 2006, and will be implemented in all primary schools in seven model districts over the next three years.

The CFS approach aims to improve the quality of education in primary schools, with a focus on girls and vulnerable children, through the implementation of a package of interventions ranging from rehabilitation of damaged classrooms and construction of adequate water and sanitation facilities for girls and boys to health screening of children and life skills education, among many other crucial interventions.

The programme addresses the increasing challenges Mozambique is facing to provide quality basic education to all children. Despite the considerable progress made in children’s access to primary schools – which increased from 1.7 million in 1997 to over 3.8 million in 2006 – a large number of children are still missing out on education due to chronic poverty and vulnerability, with significant gender and geographical disparities.

In rural areas, many schools are not equipped with adequate facilities to make them child-friendly. About 70 per cent of the schools do not have adequate sanitation and more than half of the children study in inadequate classrooms. The quality of education provided in a large number of schools is also relatively poor – half of lower primary school teachers do not have formal teacher training.

© UNICEF Mozambique/ Thierry Delvigne-Jean
A child-friendly school provides a range of health services including immunisation, health check-ups and referral to health units through trained health workers. At Puzuzu Primary School, children are vaccinated against tetanus.

The impact of HIV and AIDS has placed additional responsibilities on schools. They increasingly have to take on many of the functions that families traditionally performed in relation to children’s education and care. Besides being centres of learning, schools must now offer psychosocial support, life skills and health education. They also provide care and support for children who have lost their parents or been made vulnerable by poverty, HIV and AIDS and other difficult circumstances.

In response to these needs, the CFS model is providing a range of interventions in a number of key areas:

  • Education: provision of training for teachers and school directors on child-friendly teaching methods; provision of learning and teaching materials, including desks, and rehabilitation of classrooms in need as well as extra-curricular HIV prevention and life skills sessions by local activists.

  • Health: implementation of a school health package including immunisation, health check-ups and referral to health units through trained health workers; training and orientation to teachers and community activists in school health education to promote good health practices in schools.

  • Water and sanitation: provision of safe water points and separate sanitation facilities in all schools, hygiene education and child to child sanitation clubs.

  • Protection: identification of orphaned and vulnerable children, to refer them to basic social services; training of teachers in psycho-social support; and support to community-based social workers to work with out-of-school vulnerable children.

  • Social mobilisation: development of communication activities to promote education, particularly of girls, via community radios, mobile units and theatre groups.

One year after the introduction of the CFS model in the district of Maganja da Costa, preliminary assessments show a 20 per cent increase in enrolment. Education authorities and teachers attribute this achievement to the provision of education materials to learners, social mobilization efforts, recruitment and training of new teachers – particularly female teachers – and provision of clothing and education materials to orphaned and vulnerable children.

The lessons learned in the seven model districts will inform nation-wide education strategies to accelerate progress toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal related to universal primary education, with emphasis on reaching the most excluded children.

 

 
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