UNICEF in Action
In 2005, UNICEFs Learning Years programme focused on meeting the immediate needs of tsunami-affected children while also concentrating on ongoing goals of improving access and quality of education. Special focus was placed on making sure that education systems remained equitable within and across districts, whether affected by the tsunami or not.
This was achieved primarily through the Child Friendly Schools and Catch-up education initiatives.
Child Friendly Schools (CFS): A child friendly school ensures every child an environment that is physically safe, emotionally secure and psychologically enabling. The CFS initiative encourages enrolment and completion, aims for high academic success, addresses teacher training and motivation and creates an inclusive and safe environment for all children regardless of their gender, social status or level of ability.
Currently 1200 schools in Sri Lanka are supported in the process of functioning as Child Friendly Schools and 200 are being upgraded to Child Friendly Status. UNICEF is rebuilding 26 tsunami-damaged and destroyed schools along CFS guidelines and supporting the Government of Sri Lanka in incorporating these guidelines into the rebuilding of all tsunami-affected schools across the country.
Catch Up Education: An end to civil war in 2002, the subsequent return of displaced persons and release of child soldiers opened up an immediate need to provide schooling to children who had been outside of the mainstream education system for prolonged amounts of time. Improving literacy skills and providing children with the motivation to return to school are two significant challenges facing both students and teachers. Catch up education campaigns in Sri Lanka have seen 61,700 students enrolling in primary school in 2004, up from 44,200 students in 2002 – 2003.