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Stories about Child-Friendly Schools - What We Have Learned

Sarajevo, 22.8. 2009. – During the Conference “The Future is in our hands - We are the teachers!” -  UNICEF and the Center for Education Initiatives “Step by Step” presented the Child-Friendly Schools Concept and launched the book “Stories about Child-Friendly Schools”. 

It has been six years since the implementation of a child-based methodology began in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over this period many elementary and junior school teachers have successfully led at least one generation of pupils to higher grades of primary and even secondary schools. Conversely, a great number of teachers are just beginning to re-examine their own practices and attempting to introduce certain changes. This book is the collection of stories about the implementation of the Child-Friendly Schools concept and methodologies, as well as lessons learned, which can be of great value in the process of change in education.

“We have gained a lot of experience, yet as we all well know, a man does not learn from experience but rather from reflection on experience. This is why it is the time to jointly reflect on the personal and professional experiences that have changed us and contributed to our becoming what we are today.” – said Radmila Rangelov – Jusovic, director of the Centre for Education Initiatives “Step by Step”.

UNICEF and the CEI “Step by Step” have taken notes of changes and observations related to challenges faced in the education sector, as well as the corresponding solutions that have been devised.

“We believe that a broader audience can enjoy and learn from the stories and examples derived from teaching practices, and we hope  that this collation of experiences, as well as the manner in which we dealt with requests for the modernization of teaching practices, will provide useful advice and ideas for those who are involved in the same process or who intend to do so in the future.” – said Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UNICEF is profoundly committed to securing safe, rights-based, quality education for each and every child, irrespective of his or her circumstances. The objective is to create a comprehensive, multifaceted and dynamic educational model aimed at helping schools achieve safe, healthy and protective environments that meet the specific needs of their children. In the past six years, the CFS approach has become the main model through which UNICEF and its partners promote quality education in normal as well as emergency situations.  The Child-Friendly School (CFS) model is a simple one at heart: schools should operate in the best interests of the child. Educational environments must be safe, healthy and protective, endowed with trained teachers, adequate resources and appropriate physical, emotional and social conditions for learning.
Learning environments must be a heaven for children to learn and grow, with innate respect for their identities and varied needs. There is no single way to make a school child friendly. The model may differ from country to country, but the common denominator across cultures is a focus on child-centered education in a safe, healthy and holistic environment.
Six years ago, 74 schools embarked on an exciting, challenging and at times difficult journey called “Creating Child Friendly Schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
Amela Mesic from Orasje, one of the teachers who wrote her story for the book said: “My professional motto is, “In life it is important to learn, but even more important is the way we learn”. In our teaching lies the key for the success of every child. However, it is difficult to teach by oneself, without cooperation and assistance. My best partners thus far, in this great, responsible and also interesting job are the parents of my pupils.”
Stories written by teachers about different elements of the concept, their fears at the beginning, their pride with the results, their professionalism, motivation and enthusiasm - are all summed up in the book, which is attractive literature not only for professionals but also for the broader public.



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