In the course of UNICEF’s work during the past decade, the child-friendly school (CFS) model has emerged as the organization’s signature means to advocate for and promote quality education for every girl and boy. The model can be viewed as a package solution and a holistic instrument for pulling together a comprehensive range of interventions in quality education. As the main proponent of this model, UNICEF has developed the manual as a reference document and practical guidebook to help countries implement CFS.
WHY A CHILD-FRIENDLY SCHOOLS MANUAL?
Schooling is the one experience that most children worldwide have in common and the most common means by which societies prepare their young for the future. On any given day, more than a billion children are in primary or secondary school: 689 million in primary school and 513 million in secondary school. They are in permanent or temporary buildings, in tents or under trees – sharing the experience of learning, developing their potential and enriching their lives. But schooling is not always a positive experience for children. It can mean shivering in cold, unheated buildings or sweltering in hot, airless ones. It can mean being forced to stand in unfurnished classrooms, being hungry, thirsty or unwell; it can also mean being frightened by the threat of punishment, humiliation, bullying or even violence at the hands of teachers and fellow pupils.
These conditions thwart learning. They are made worse when learners are without competent teachers to guide them, textbooks to learn from or exercise books to write in, or if they have textbooks of inferior quality that reinforce damaging stereotypes. Learning is further stymied when schools have no toilets, running water or electricity. It is a challenge to reach the 101 million primary-school-age children around the world who do not attend school. But it is perhaps even more daunting to rectify the deplorable conditions endured by millions of children already in school, conditions that are antithetical to learning, children’s well-being and their future livelihood.