2012 Barbados: Evaluation of the impact of the Child Friendly Schools approach in the Eastern Caribbean
Author: Patricia Daniel, Veronica Evelyn, John Wood
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UNICEF has supported two different initiatives in Barbados and Dominica (amongst other Caribbean countries) that use the Child Friendly School approach to change attitudes and practices of behaviour management and discipline in schools. A particular concern for UNICEF and many of its partners is the continuing use of authorised corporal punishment and reported use of unauthorised measures that are in contravention of children’s rights.
The work was piloted in a single school in Barbados and was expanded to 11 schools in Phase 1 in 2009, all but one of which are primary. A second phase, of 10 primary and 11 more secondary schools started in Phase 2 in 2011. This initiative is called the Schools Positive Behaviour Management Program (SPBMP), after some stakeholders expressed concerns about the term Child-Friendly.
In Dominica the first phase started in 2009 in 10 primary schools: it is known as the Child Friendly School (CFS) initiative.
UNICEF is considering how this work might be supported in other countries to improve the school experience for children, drawing on CFS principles and, in particular to reduce the use of inappropriate punishment to which children are subjected.
The evaluation undertook an inception in Barbados and Dominica in October 2011 and agreed an evaluations framework and an approach based on desk research, interviews (including group interviews), school visits and observation and a school survey.
The evaluation framework covered key areas identified in the evaluation TORS, reflecting the CFS strategy, namely:
• Child-centredness of pedagogy, social and emotional environment and physical space;
• Particpation of children, parents and other stakeholders;
• Inclusion of all pupils, boys and girls and those with different needs;
• Costs and cost effectiveness of the initiative and of potential cost-savings
• UNICEF additionality the relevance and effectiveness of UNICEF in its supporting role.
The research team met stakeholders, including officials from the Ministries of Education and undertook visits to 6 schools in each country (of between 1 and 2 days, depending on the logistics). In each school the team interviewed staff, including ancillary staff, children and parents. There was some observation of teaching and learning. Only one secondary school, in Barbados, was included, reflecting the coverage of the two initiatives.
The evaluation team also prepared and promulgated a short questionnaire on behaviour, discipline and attitudes to punishment. Unfortunately the questionnaire coincided with industrial action and other disruptions and the response rate was disappointing.
Findings and Conclusions:
UNCEF support has provided reasonable costs for training, support, physical improvements and communications. Schools and individual teachers are incurring ongoing costs for material rewards that have been introduced and this may not be sustainable.
There is no information available on the financial gains accruing from decreasing disciplinary incidents.
UNICEF’s technical inputs to training, communications and support personnel have been executed well and are appreciated by beneficiaries and partners. However, there has been a failure of monitoring, including at the point of up-scaling from the pilot project. Moreover, the support, and the initiatives, have been compartmentalised with too little concern for systemic change and the roles of other parts of the system, for example for pre-service teacher education, inspection and, critically, school and national data system under the EMIS.
The evaluation concludes that shifting attitudes towards corporal punishment can be slow but has been furthered by the initiatives. However there remains significant use of physical and other inappropriate punishment, ofteen unauthorised, and the discourse is often hampered by different definitions and perceptions of physical interventions.
There is concern expressed about institutional ownership of these initiatives both within the target schools and, more significantly within the relevant agencies of the Ministry and its partners. A particular issue is the lack of information available to the Ministry to monitor the use of punishment and the occurrence of behavioural incidents.
The evaluation proposes approaches to similar initiatives and to extending those in Barbados and Dominica. These include:
• Recognise and share the holistic integrity of the CFS agenda and how it can influence behaviour and discipline in schools: participation, classroom practice and inclusion need to be taken seriously;
• Review and map the links with the HFLE curriculum and practices within schools (and other services/resources for helping children with psycho-social needs) and build on strengths there;
• Engage with the language of physical punishment, with stakeholders, to expose the ambiguities and emotive baggage in the discourse;
• A more complete gender-analysis that recognises the different situations and needs of boys and girls and reinforces the needs for more gender-disaggregated data;
• Work with children to identify incentives and positive rewards that are not making material demands on teachers;
• Ensure national data system or EMIS collects all relevant data including on behavioural incidents and punishments;
• Work on institutionalisation within the education system and the role of other agencies, including the inspection and school support, teacher-education and student support agencies;
• Where there is school planning involving school self-evaluation, help school to introduce self-evaluation tools on (the non-academic) aspects of the CFS and ways to improve their evidence and approach to behaviour and discipline.
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