Teachers from about 24 schools participated in a training session today conducted by the Special Education department of the Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF that will equip them with the skills to transform their schools into child-friendly schools.

These teachers will join fellow educators at 10 schools across the island where the programme has already been piloted and reports have come from both staff and parents at those schools that there have been significant changes in the general deportment of the students.

Coordinator for Special Education in the Ministry of Education Melina Fontaine said that these methods have been implemented in a number of other countries in the region and the effort it being made to scale it up with the view to making it uniform across the board.

“It involves looking at expectations, in terms of how children should act in school, how they should behave and how they should get on with their academics. A lot of the time we assume that children know how to behave and so with the child-friendly school initiative we are saying that you have to teach them what behavior is expected of them within the school. We also look at their academic programmes and we want to ensure that all students, whatever their potential, will be successful at school,” Fontaine revealed.

She indicated that these new methods have improved the students’ academics since more attention is being given to individual students but more studies are still being done to assess the impact of the programme.

Fontaine reported, “Right now we have a consultant from UNICEF doing an evaluation of the initiative and looking at its impact and hopefully we’ll get some more information out of that, but there are things that we are doing to look at the academics and already we are beginning to see changes in academic performance because of what is happening in the classroom. Teachers are really paying attention to individual students because unless you pay attention to them some will fall through the cracks. I cannot tell how big it is just yet though.”

Teachers at training