Strong supporters of Schools for Africa, UNICEF Finland visits Chibuto
GAZA, Mozambique, 14 April 2011 – From 12 to 14 March this year, Ms. Susanna Haltsonen, Coordinator of the UNICEF City Partnership campaign in Satakunta, Finland, came for a field visit to Mozambique. She was accompanied by Mr. Teemu Kaila, a well-known radio and TV journalist from Finnish Broadcasting (Yle in Finnish). Satakunta, a region in western Finland with approximately 230,000 people, is a partner in the City Campaign of the Finnish National Committee for UNICEF, which is supporting the Schools for Africa (SFA) initiative. Ms. Haltsonen used the opportunity provided by the field visit to experience the UNICEF programme first hand and visit schools in Chibutu district that are benefitting from the initiative.
The field visit, which included Mozambique and South Africa, also represented a good opportunity for UNICEF Finland to produce video footage and make interviews for use in future fundraising campaigns, such as ‘Red Nose day’, the Finnish Broadcasting Company’s fundraising and public awareness campaign, which is also targeting its efforts at Schools for Africa.
The Finnish National Committee for UNICEF has been supporting the SFA initiative since 2008, having contributed more than €700 000 thus far. According to UNICEF Finland officials, there is an intention to continue to support the initiative and even increase contributions. On their return to Finland, the visitors will be sharing their observations and experiences as widely as possible and make the SFA initiative known within their communities.
The trip provided Haltsonen and Kaila a look into the schools and communities that benefit from the initiative and a chance to learn more about UNCIEF’s Child Friendly Schools (CFS) in Mozambique, which aim to improve the quality of education in selected districts in the country through the implementation of a multi-sectoral package of interventions that meet defined minimum quality standards. The purpose of CFS is to ensure that all schools in Mozambique become child-friendly learning environments with established standards that promote and protect the human rights of the country’s children.
In Mozambique, the minimum quality package of school interventions include five main focus areas: education; water, sanitation and hygiene; health and nutrition; child protection; and community participation. The interventions range from training teachers on interactive teaching methods and providing quality school materials to constructing safe water points and carrying out regular health screening of children.
“The spirit of joy of these children, the school staff and the community is fantastic,” Haltsonen said after the visit. “What was an eye-opener for us was to see and understand how these schools are at the core of their surrounding communities, and how everyone understands the importance of inclusive education of both boys and girls,” she added.
The taped interviews were an excellent way for the visitors to learn about the visions, dreams, hopes, aspirations and concerns of Mozambican school children. The children spoke freely and happily and shared their thoughts and feelings.
Chibuto, a district in Gaza province with approximately 190,000 people and 128 schools covered by the CFS initiative, is situated in the southern region of Mozambique, near the confluence of the Limpopo and Changane rivers. Its population is young, with 43 per cent of all inhabitants below 15 years of age, and predominantly rural, with an urbanization rate of only 28 per cent. The implementation of the Child Friendly School initiative in Chibuto started in 2008 and had shown considerable results by the end of 2009, with participation and completion rates up and drop-out rates down for both boys and girls.
The support provided to the child friendly schools in Chibuto and other CFS districts include training of school directors and area coordinators; training of teachers in gender-sensitive and participatory teaching methods; training of pupils in HIV awareness; rehabilitation of classrooms; purchase of desks; purchase and distribution of learner’s kits; implementation of school health packages; construction of water points and sanitation facilities; integration of physical activity into the learning process; and regular participation of children in the production and presentation of community radio programmes that are broadcast in the local area.
For more information about the Schools for Africa initiative, please visit: http://www.schoolsforafrica.com/home.htm
For more information, please contact:
Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: email@example.com