Effective schools

Working for child-friendly education at primary and secondary levels




For too many children in the Eastern Caribbean school is not a place where they feel wanted and nurtured.

It is often a stressful and alienating environment which is not necessarily turning out young people ready to face the pressures, the complexities and the changing face of the modern world. Systems are needed which help children navigate these demands so that school becomes safe, welcoming and responsive to the varying needs of all students.

Young people need to understand what is expected of them and become more involved in the running of their schools so they feel they have a stake in them. 

In addition, school-aged children are often school exposed to violence, whether through bullying perpetrated by other students or corporal punishment administered by teachers or parents.

In the Caribbean, there are religious and cultural norms which support the use of corporal punishment to discipline children.

One in four secondary school children in the region has experienced bullying, 40 percent of adolescents have been involved in fighting and three quarters of children have experienced violent discipline at home.

This has to change. For UNICEF it is critical that in addition to the eastern Caribbean educational system adapting to address the abilities of all students, thus avoiding frustrations that can exacerbate disengagement and violence,  

discipline should be is reinforced in a fair and constructive way, avoiding the use of corporal punishment.


The Solution

Our goal for primary and secondary education, is to help countries provide access for all children to schooling that supports their whole development, regardless of their ability or background.

At the core of this are the Effective Schools Framework/Child Friendly School (EFS/CFS) strategies that offer a holistic approach to help provide learning environments where children feel cared for, respected and physically and emotionally safe. We work with education planners to design and implement programmes to reduce violence, develop life skills and encourage student participation.

Under the Effective/Child Friendly School umbrella:

  • Schools are encouraged to have classrooms that are more child-centred
  • Teachers are trained and encouraged to use strategies that cater to different learning styles
  • Educators are equipped with knowledge and strategies to use positive behaviour interventions and management techniques as alternatives to traditional disciplinary approaches
  • Children are provided with the tools to make the right choices in life though life skills education
  • Students are more involved in school management through students’ councils
  • Arts, music and sports are used to keep children connected to school and committed to their learning

Classrooms across several Eastern Caribbean countries are being transformed by this positive initiative which is gaining ground every year. The ESF approach is becoming increasingly popular with some 86,000 primary and secondary school students reached by UNICEF’s work in this area by the end of 2017. This figure represents 58 per cent of primary and 39 per cent of secondary schools in 10 Eastern Caribbean countries.