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Child Friendly Schools: Making education real for children, families and communities in Mozambique

© UNICEF Mozambique
Gender equity, empowerment and inclusiveness are essential elements of the Child Friendly Schools program.

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 12 April 2011 – In a four-day global capacity building workshop taking place in Maputo from 11 to 14 April, educators and administrators from Portuguese-speaking counties around the world are gathering in Mozambique to study the Child Friendly School (CFS) program. The workshop was opened by the Minister of Education Zeferino Martins, and by UNICEF Representative Jesper Morch on 11 April 2011. Mozambique was chosen as a venue for the global workshop because of the country’s extensive and positive experience with the UNICEF-supported CFS program.

UNICEF works to ensure that every child in the world – regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability or socio-economic status – has access to a quality education. One way of doing this is by mainstreaming and scaling up CFS or similar models throughout the education systems in all 155 countries and territories in which UNICEF operates. This involves the focus on child-centered learning and provision of services through schools, as well as critical processes such as designing and implementing gender-sensitive curricula, improving learning environments for children and focusing on teacher development. The purpose of CFS is to support the accelerated promotion of quality basic education for all children, school construction and rehabilitation, capacity building for teachers and strengthening school governance and management.

The CFS program is guided by some key principles:

Children have a right to education
CFS ensures a child’s right to education, places the child at the centre of the learning experience and ensures that all decisions related to his or her schooling are made in the best interest of each individual child. CFS recognizes that going to school is not only about learning reading and writing, but also about developing the ‘whole’ child by addressing all his or her rights.

Gender equity, empowerment and inclusiveness are essential
CFS is sensitive to the rights of both girls and boys. All children should have equal opportunity to learn and develop their full potential in an environment conducive to democratic participation and free of discrimination. CFS actively identifies excluded girls and boys in the community to get them into school. Child-friendly policies strive to provide quality education that is free and accessible for all children, especially the vulnerable and marginalized.

Schools provide a head start and keep children safe
CFS help to enhance the quality of early learning, and thereby contribute to developmental readiness among children, timely entry into school and better learning outcomes. CFS provides a protective environment for girls and boys to be safe from harm and free from the possible rigours of abuse, sexual or economic exploitation and trafficking. CFS ensures that a child is healthy and protected from disease and injury and provided with the necessary nourishment to learn and engage in school activities. They also provide clean water and access to separate toilets for girls and boys.

Schools are for life
CFS provides a strong foundation for the future, preparing a child for the years ahead by emphasizing the acquisition of life-skills and capacities for life-long learning. CFS teaches children important life-skills and ways to empower themselves in everyday life (for example in the prevention of HIV). CFS is sensitive to the needs of teachers, encouraging teachers to be professionally capable, reflective and able to create a setting that is creative, intellectually challenging and child-centred.

Broadening horizons and fostering creativity
CFS is designed to build self-confidence in girls and boys. It supports participation and individual expression through play and cultural activities, such as sports, music, drama and art. CFS broadens a child’s concept of learning, fosters creativity and encourages children to appreciate their individuality.

Last, but not least, CFS strengthens the bonds between school and family and community. The program is respectful of and sensitive to the knowledge, values and traditions students bring from their families and the wider community. At the same time, in a child-friendly school, children acquire new knowledge and skills that they take back to their family and community.

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:




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