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Education experts meet to discuss Child-Friendly Schools in South Asia

KATHMANDU, 18 March 2009 – Education experts from the South Asia region are meeting this week in Kathmandu to discuss and determine what it takes to make schools child-friendly in effort to provide a quality education for all girls and boys.

The four-day workshop is part of the Global Capacity Development Programme on Child-Friendly Schools (CFS), developed by the UNICEF Education section in New York, that is being rolled out in all regions around the globe.

Former UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam made opening remarks, calling for countries to fulfill their commitments in providing a quality education for all children by integrating the child-friendly school approach in their education plans and policies.

“The time for piloting is over,” said Mr. Gautam. “Child-friendly schools must become the norm, not the exception.”

The global CFS programme is designed to provide practical guidance on advocating for and supporting the mainstreaming of CFS.  It gives a set of information and tools to create and strengthen child-friendly learning environments for all children in all circumstances.

The programme builds on investments and global commitments that governments have already made to achieve education goals, including the establishment of quality standards. The regional workshops are a major step in assisting governments to strengthen national capacity in creating child-friendly standards.

Throughout the week experts will deliberate on the importance of child-centred classroom practices and school environments that are safe and protective of children and that promote learning. Participants will also discuss schools as a learning community including creating school ethos, links between schools and the communities they serve as well as overall role of government in facilitating quality standards through proper planning and budgeting.

Lava Dev Awasthi, Under Secretary from the Ministry of Education and Sports, Nepal, welcomed guests at the opening ceremony and highlighted the successes of partnership as well as challenges Nepal faces in addressing quality and sustainability. “The provision of a quality education is a significant challenge facing Nepal,” he said.

Workshop participants include over 50 representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka that include such partners as  Save the Children and the Commonwealth of Learning.  The programme is seen as a “training of trainers” event. The CFS Reference Manual, which gives guidelines for decision makers, planners and education practitioners, will be introduced for the first time in the region.

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UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

John Brittain, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Nepal, Tel +977 1 5523200 x 1182, Email jbrittain@unicef.org

Najwa Mekki, UNICEF Media Section, Tel + 212-326-7162, Email: nmekki@unicef.org




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