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UNICEF and Japanese Government support new child-friendly schools in Angola

© UNICEF Angola/2010/Hvass
Laurinda, 11, reads her vote of thanks at the launch of Comandante Kissanji School in Angola, one of 20 new schools funded by the Government and people of Japan through UNICEF.

DAMBA MARIA, Angola, 25 June 2010 – Japan’s Ambassador to Angola, Kazuhiko Koshikawa, has officially handed over the first of 20 child-friendly schools, financed by the Government of Japan, to Angola’s Ministry of Education.

“At the end of World War II, Japan had one major investment priority: education. Because we made this investment, Japan today is a developed nation,” Mr. Koshikawa said during the official opening of Comandante Kissanji School in Damba Maria, a fishing village 450 km south of the Angolan capital, Luanda.

“We know that Angola has a major challenge to provide quality primary education for all the country’s children, and we are committed to helping the government rise to this challenge,” Mr. Koshikawa.

The Japanese Government has given UNICEF $9 million to build 10 schools, each with 12 classrooms, in the Angolan capital, Luanda; and 10 with six classrooms each in the southern province of Benguela.

Child friendly standards

The schools new will benefit a total of 16,200 children. All of them are being built to meet standards of child-friendly education. Child-friendly schools provide children with a protective environment, trained teachers, adequate resources and appropriate physical, emotional and social conditions for learning.

© UNICEF Angola/2010/Hvass
UNICEF Representative in Angola Koen Vanormelingen at the launch of Comandante Kissanji School, Angola.

“I am extremely pleased to see the fruits of partnership between the Ministry, UNICEF and the Government of Japan,” said Angola’s Minister of Education, Pinda Simao. “Following this path of partnership, we will finally be able to provide Angola’s children with schools where they may learn in a safe, healthy and appropriate environment.”

Comandante Kissanji School has 1,400 primary school students spread over morning and afternoon shifts, and another 400 students who take classes at night. The school has six classrooms, electricity, piped water, separate toilets for boys and girls, and brand new furniture. Students greatly appreciate taking in lessons while sitting at proper tables and chairs.

“Before, we used to sit on old chairs or under the trees and many children went home from school with back ache. Now, we have much better classrooms, with better furniture, and we even have a parent-teacher association at our school,” said Laurinda Anna Bernardo, 11, a student at Comandante Kissanji.

Improved learning environments

Education in Angola has come a long way since the end of the civil war in 2002, but about 1 million of the country’s children are still not in school – and many students who are enrolled do not complete primary school.

© UNICEF Angola/2010/Hvass
Children at Comandante Kissanji School, Angola, one of 20 new schools built to meet 'child-friendly' standards.

With the adoption of an Angolan standard for child-friendly schools, discussed at national workshops in December 2009 and May of this year, the panorama for Angola’s primary school-age population is set to change. Fewer children are expected to drop out due to poor sanitary conditions, and overall retention rates are set to increase with more and better-trained teachers and improved learning environments.

Active involvement of the community in school life is also a part of the child-friendly standard and is likely to make a marked difference in the way schools are run, as well as how primary education is viewed.

“Investing in human resources is the soundest investment a government can make, and it must begin with children,” said UNICEF Representative in Angola Koen Vanormelingen. “I am very pleased to see that the Ministry of Education has been able to use these funds from the Government of Japan, not just to build more schools but also to integrate the project within a new national standard for primary education.”



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