The concept of Child-friendly Schools (CFS) emerged in the mid-1990s following the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The CRC declares that all girls and boys in the world are entitled to basic human rights, which include the right to a quality education. The CFS approach that has developed in more than 100 countries over the last 15 years is a rights-based, holistic approach to defining and improving education quality. It is characterized by these dimensions: the promotion of child rights; a safe, protective, and healthy environment; effective learning; stakeholder participation; inclusiveness; and gender-responsiveness
Hence, the introduction of CFS initiative by UNICEF is to move schools and education systems progressively towards quality standards, addressing all elements that influence the well-being and rights of the child as a learner and the main beneficiary of teaching, while improving other school functions in the process.
The major priorities of implementing the CFS model in Omani educational environment are to achieve more comprehensive approach to planning for quality education and develop an advocacy plan kit through:
· Stronger links between schools and their communities which will facilitate consultative process, and a prerequisite for developing credible education sector plans
· A focus on the well-being of the whole child, including attention of different needs of different groups.
· An emphasis on inclusiveness will enable the decision makers to tap on and harness the full potential of their human resources
· Child-centered pedagogy will enable teachers improve their professional status as facilitators of learning, custodians of children’s well-being while they are school.
In 2010 a Ministerial Decree by H.E. the Minister of Education established a National Working Group in Oman and charged it with implementing the principles and concepts specific to Child Friendly Schools in the schools of the Ministry. Subsequently, several members of the CFS National Working Group (NWG) participated in a UNICEF regional workshop in Amman, Jordan on CFS and began to plan how to implement CFS principles and concepts in accordance with the decree.
In November 2010, Dr. Shirley Miske of Miske Witt & Associates Inc., USA, contracted by UNICEF, undertook a mission to Oman in order to explore in greater detail with the CFS NWG how to develop CFS in Oman.
The Ministry of Education and UNICEF identified six CFS dimensions for the Omani model as a result of the final findings of Dr. Miske’s first visit: (1) Child Rights Promotion; (2) Health, Safety and Protection; (3) Inclusiveness; (4) Learning Effectiveness; (5) Gender Responsiveness; and (6) Stakeholders’ Participation.
In 2011, a workshop was conducted by the consultants of the project for the Ministry of Education team, in which an action plan was developed, with the following steps to be carried out:
· Enlarge the national working group (NWG) of the project to eight members
· Meet with eight-member NWG
· Develop Training Plan to build capacity in NWG
· Revise and finalize CFS one-year (to-three year) action plan
· Establish Department Working Groups in the MoE
· Plan for the development of CFS Guides and Tools
· Develop CFS standards and indicators
· Validate standards and indicators and get feedback
· Develop CFS Standards Monitoring and Evaluation Plan
· Develop Training Plan to Build Capacity for Others on Child Rights and CFS Dimensions
· Develop and revise Plan for CFS Communication and Dissemination