Devpro Resource Centre

Child-friendly schools

‘Child-friendly schools - Schools for life’

Did you know that on any given day, more than a billion children around the world go to school? Whether classes are held in buildings, in tents or sometimes even under trees, children should be learning, developing their potential and enriching their lives. For many of them, however, school is not a positive experience.

The child-friendly school (CFS) model has emerged as UNICEF's signature means to advocate for and promote quality education for every girl and boy. The model can be viewed as a holistic instrument for pulling together a comprehensive range of interventions in quality education. The child-friendly schools (CFS) framework promotes child-seeking, child-centred, gender-sensitive, inclusive, community-involved, environmentally friendly, protective and healthy approaches to schooling and out-of-school education worldwide.

Child-friendly schools have become the main approach through which a network of international and national partners is promoting quality education for all children, in everyday situations as well as in emergencies. In 93 countries, the child-friendly school approach is used for ensuring children their right to quality education.

As a part of a Global Capacity Development Programme on CFS, UNICEF has developed a Manual to help countries implement CFS models that are most appropriate for their specific circumstances.

As a representative of a non-governmental organization, an activist, a donor, a parliamentarian or a citizen, here are ways YOU can make a difference:

Promote child-friendly schools: child-seeking, child-centred, gender-sensitive, inclusive, community-involved, environmentally friendly, protective and healthy approaches to schooling and out-of-school education.

Ratify all relevant human rights conventions. Formally recognize education as a human right and ratify all relevant international treaties. This must happen if states are to fulfil the Education for All goals.

Ensure access to education. Budget for and implement early childhood education; commit to compulsory primary education; develop secondary education, supported by measures to make it accessible to all children; and ensure equitable access to higher education.

Remove economic barriers to education. Abolish fees for primary education; collaborate with the non-formal education sector to promote and facilitate access to other learning opportunities; and include specific measures related to the removal of economic barriers in national plans of action and poverty reduction initiatives.

Promote inclusion and end discrimination. Ensure that births are registered, because the lack of a birth certificate may result in the denial of a place in school; eliminate all forms of discrimination.

Provide a broad, relevant and inclusive curriculum. Promote a broad-based curriculum that aspires to equip children with numeracy and literacy, as well as with knowledge in science, the humanities, sport and the arts; provide opportunities for play consistent with the right to optimum development.

Develop rights-based learning and assessment. Ensure that children’s right to express their views is granted and that their views are given due weight; ensure that teaching and learning materials are adequate.

Ensure adequate training, support and respect for teachers. Establish minimum qualification standards for teachers at all levels of education; introduce measures to protect teachers’ rights (for instance, regarding pay scales, management support, and other areas of concern to them).

Introduce child-friendly, safe and healthy learning environments. Ensure minimum health and safety standards, and guarantee a minimum frequency of school inspections; provide packages of health care, including nutrition, screening, health checks, malaria prevention and attention to children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Respect identity. Provide bilingual or multilingual education for children not familiar with the language of instruction; consult with the community to ensure respect for religion, culture and language.

Ensure children’s participation. Establish and encourage student participation at all levels; involve children in the development of relevant school policies.

Protect integrity. Prohibit all forms of violence against children, including physical and humiliating punishment in school and at home; support and train teachers to end physical punishment and introduce strategies for non-violent conflict resolution; and provide effective mechanisms for complaint by children.

Adopt national policies to ensure that child-friendly approaches receive an adequate proportion of the national budget.

June 2009



Related resources

UNICEF, Child-Friendly Schools Manual, 2009 | PDF English

UNICEF, Child-Friendly Schools | website

UNICEF, Global Capacity Development Programme on Child-Friendly Schools | website

UNICEF, Resources on Child-Friendly Schools | website

UNICEF, 'Quality education and child-friendly schools,' Actions for Children Issue 5, March 2009 | PDF English | French | Spanish

Programme précis on child-friendly schools | website

Child-Friendly Schools

Learn more about Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) and quality education

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