The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development on Monday announced plans to adopt the Child Friendly Schools (CFS) model, which focuses on behaviour management, in all Dominican schools by 2015.
The CFS model promotes a child-centred approach to learning and is aimed at high quality education for all. It focuses on behaviour management practices in classrooms, the creation of classrooms that are learning ready, healthy lifestyles and systems that encourage the participation of all children.
The programme is also aimed at promoting parental and community involvement in children’s learning.
Co-ordinator for Special Education and CFS Focal Point Melina Fontaine told a stakeholders meeting that CFS would help move the discussion about the school system away from violence and academic underachievement to the positive behaviour of students.
“We are moving towards the environment where every child is protected, is safe, is healthy, is positive and can succeed to their full potential.
“We anticipate that by 2015, every school in Dominica will be implementing CFS principles. We also anticipate that from now on, every successive year, the ripple effects of CFS practices will be felt in every community,” Fontaine said.
The CFS model is being implemented in 35 primary schools since its launch in September 2009 and operates on three main principles-child-centeredness, democratic participation, and inclusiveness.
“Where the CFS principles are being implemented consistently, we have begun to see results…in some schools, the number of children who are referred to the principal’s office is decreasing and there is less use of corporal punishment,” Fontaine said, adding that students are now reporting conflicts rather than engaging in aggressive behaviour.
The ministry is hoping that full implementation of CFS principles will result in decreases in behaviour problems, violence at schools, suspensions, expulsions and drop-outs.
Chief Education Officer Steve Hyacinth encouraged stakeholders to get involved in the process to create safer environments at schools.
“All groups or all sectors affected by school crime and violence must work together, must be meaningfully involved in the process and must take ownership and play a critical role.
“There is no need to be pointing fingers or playing the blame game. This is not the answer. All of us must play our part to ensure that our schools remain safe havens for all students and teachers, and ensure that all students succeed,” Hyacinth said.
The Minister for Education and Human Resource Development Petter Saint Jean told the stakeholder’s meeting that his government had embraced the Child Friendly Schools concept as a way to help address the problem of violence in schools as well as provide quality education for all.
“The government of Dominica is prepared to do all within its power and within its meanS to ensure that all schools in Dominica provide a protected, safe, healthy and inclusive environment for all of our students,” Saint-Jean said.
The Child Friendly Schools programme is supported by the UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Office.