Felicidade and Domingas invite you for a guided tour of their school in Angola

The learning environment in School 141, in Moxico Province, has been reshaped since it became a Child Friendly School. Two of its students show us why they like to study here.

Marco Prates
Felicidade Bernarda, de 11 anos, e Domingas Gabriel, de 10 anos, cuidam das plantas na Escola 141, em Luena, Província do Moxico.
UNICEF Angola/2018/Marco Prates

23 May 2019

11-year old Felicidade Bernarda and 10-year old Domingas Gabriel still remember when their school environment was very different from what it is today. It has been more than three years since School 141, on a calm street of Luena, the capital of Moxico Province, Eastern Angola, became a Child Friendly School.

Most of the things Felicidade and Domingas are now fond of didn’t exist when they joined the school. Water to drink? Only if brought from home. Toilets? No – you had to find a concealed spot around the school surroundings. Facilities to wash hands? Not available. But things have changed since then.

Water and sanitation infrastructure are key components of the Child Friendly School approach, which seeks to ensure that children achieve their right to a safe, quality education. This includes not only increasing the quality of teaching and learning, but also improving the learning environment, improving children’s health outcomes, and encouraging family and community involvement to improve school management and educational outcomes.

It is no wonder that today Felicidade and Domingas are not shy of showing off their school to people. Will you join them for a visit?

The above photo opens the tour: Felicidade and Domingas garden and keep their green school space neat and tidy by watering plants twice a day. But do you hear that? The bell is ringing and school has started. Ready for class?

 

First stop: Classroom

Domingas Gabriel e a professora Anabela Camisa durante as aulas na Escola 141, que faz parte das Escolas Amigas da Crianças em Luena, Província do Moxico.
UNICEF Angola/2018/Marco Prates
Domingas learns with teacher Anabela Camisa, whose career spans over two decades, Anabela is among the more than 140 professionals who received regular trainings on areas such as teaching methods, student participation, student-centre learning and adolescent sexual and reproductive health. “One valuable lesson for me was that not only the teacher must speak”, she explains while comparing her old and new student-centered teaching methods. “When children are given the opportunity to express themselves, learning is improved".
 

Second stop: Running water system

Felicidade Bernarda e Domingas Gabriel mostram o tanque de água na Escola 141, que faz parte das Escolas Amigas da Crianças em Luena, Província do Moxico.
UNICEF Angola/2018/Marco Prates
After the bell rings for break time – and the school yard is filled with the sound of playing children – the first thing Felicidade and Domingas want to show is the rehabilitated water tank. The tank was not functional until the school was chosen to be part of the CFS initiative; thanks to this project, the tank was fitted with a revamped plumbing system and it now meets the needs of teachers and students. Importantly, these investments in infrastructure were accompanied by training on good hygiene practices. This has led to an important change in behavior that has been embraced by teachers, students, and other members of the community: handswashing. “I always wash my hands now”, says Felicidade, whose name means “Happiness” in Portuguese.

 

Third stop: Safe drinking water

Felicidade Bernarda e Domingas Gabriel bebem água potável na Escola 141, que faz parte das Escolas Amigas da Crianças em Luena, Província do Moxico.
UNICEF Angola/2018/Marco Prates
In the middle of the school’s yard - and accessible to all students - is the safe drinking water tap. The installation of this structure has made students’ walk to school much easier, as now they didn’t have to carry water to school. Unfortunately, a UNICEF study conducted in 600 schools of 6 provinces in 2015 showed that access to safe water is still the exception rather than the norm in most schools in Angola.

 

Fourth stop: Toilet

Domingas Gabriel e Felicidade Bernarda mostram a casa de banho com sanita a funcionar na Escola 141, que faz parte das Escolas Amigas da Crianças em Luena, Província do Moxico
UNICEF Angola/2018/Marco Prates
Before becoming a Child Friendly School, School 141’s toilet facilities were not functioning. Domingas still remembers the unpleasant smell. All 1,500 students were obliged to use the area surrounding the school to go to the washroom. This practice was unsafe – particularly for girls – and helped to spread diseases, leading increased school absences and hurting learning outcomes.

 

Final stop: Thank you!

Felicidade Bernarda e Domingas Gabriel junto com os alunos da Escola 141, que faz parte das Escolas Amigas da Crianças em Luena, Província do Moxico.
UNICEF Angola/2018/Marco Prates
Felicidade, Domingas and their classmates from the morning school shift thank you for the visit! They say they are always available to show you around their school from Monday to Friday. But keep in mind that they’re only free during break times -  there is a lot to learn and discuss with teachers during class time! They also invite you to the next monthly meeting with the parents’ committee. Bye!

 

In Angola, the Child Friendly School approach supports 10 schools in the provinces of Moxico and Bie, benefitting over 8 000 students in Moxico alone. In 2019, three new schools in Huila province will be added to the project, generously financed by UNICEF’s Japan National Committee and implemented by the respective provincial Offices of Education and Directorates of Water and Energy.