Education and adolescent development

Overview: Education and adolescent development

Early Childhood Development

Child friendly schools

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Child friendly schools

The South African education system was ravaged by apartheid. Today its legacy is seen in the mass of impoverished and run-down rural and townships schools that cater to the majority of African children. Opportunities for better education are limited to a number of well-resourced former white state schools. Low exam pass rates, school dropout, violence and sexual abuse in schools as well as teenage pregnancy and HIV infection are tragic consequences of the deep inequalities in school communities.

Schools are an important personal and social space for children. Children are natural learners but their desire to learn can be easily undermined and destroyed by the many hardships they face on a day-to-day basis. For children to stay in school and successfully complete their education, schools must be physically safe, emotionally secure and child-focused places.

UNICEF is working closely with the National Department of Education and civil society to develop holistic models for dramatically improving schools. These models are part of the Safe and Caring Child Friendly Schools Framework—a set of six principles to transform schools by providing quality education, safety and access to education for girls, orphans and other vulnerable children.

UNICEF has been supporting the Safe and Caring Child Friendly Schools (SCCFS) programme in South Africa for several years and by 2010, 820 of the most disadvantaged schools were implementing it. A 2011 evaluation noted that child friendly principles have now been fully integrated into the national Caring and Support for Teaching and Learning framework, which will help to ensure the sustainability and scale up of the SCCFS concept nationwide. Plans are underway for full scale-up in three provinces with the lowest performance rates in the 2011 Annual National Assessment. More than 9,000 schools, with an estimated six million students, will be reached.

The CFS principles are also the core strategy for developing the Department of Basic Education’s Social Cohesion Toolkit and school functionality through the Education Sector Action Plan 2014 and the Schooling 2025 initiative.





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A Child friendly school is:

  • Rights-based and inclusive
  • Academically effective
  • Safe, protective and caring
  • Health promoting and seeking
  • Gender-sensitive
  • Builds linkages and partnerships with its community

Testimonies on Child Friendly Schools from the field


A summary of reflections of service providers working in 65 schools in the Eastern Cape.

(PDF documents require Acrobat Reader to view.)

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