CFS refers to a school where children and adolescents acquire and develop knowledge, abilities and life skills in a healthy and safe environment which is inclusive, protective and respectful of gender differences and cultural diversity.
CFS standards focuses on three main principles; child centeredness, democratic participation and inclusiveness with five expectations which are; Be Safe, Be responsible, Be respectful, Be cooperative and Be kind. These expectations are posted at the schools to remind students of what is required of them and to promote positive behavior and thinking.The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which prides itself as working for children’s rights, survival, development and protection in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of the major sponsors of the program in Dominica.
At a business stakeholders meeting to launch the public outreach campaign of the CFS initiative on Monday evening, Education and HIV/AIDS Specialist at UNICEF Dr Elaine King commended Dominica on being “the shining example for the Caribbean” in implementing CFS.
Dr. King noted that children’s education should not be the sole responsibility of a ministry but a collaborative effort involving schools, the ministry of education, families and the wider society.
She submitted that, “Children need to feel wanted at schools, they need to feel comfortable being there, they need to feel that this is somewhere that is a positive experience, they need to feel that the school is theirs and not the minister’s school. Schools also need to prepare children to live in the society”.
Coordinator of Special Education Melina Fontaine told Monday’s launching that CFS is one way to turn negatives into positives with a view to motivating students.“With CFS we are moving away from the model where we wait for children to fail for someone to catch them, we are moving away from the classroom that cannot be managed, we are moving towards the environment where every child is protected, is safe, is healthy, is positive and can succeed to their full potential”.
She explained that a reward system which forms part of CFS initiative includes a principal 200 club where children are rewarded with points for good behavior, academic achievement or other achievements and they can purchase items from the principal’s shop, school canteen or vendors with their tokens.
With CFS, there is a merit card system instead of a demerit, removing the negative connotations and focusing on positive language. Some schools also highlight the achievements of students by posting their photographs on the school wall when they have excelled so the students are motivated to work hard and to exemplify proper behaviors.Fountain is hopeful that by 2015 every school in Dominica will implement CFS principles including early childhood and secondary schools.
“We also anticipate that from now on every successive year the ripple effect of CFS practices will be felt in every community. It will not happen overnight but with everyone working together, with school and community collaborating with each other and supporting each other we will succeed, we will succeed”.
Meanwhile, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank and Child Fund Caribbean pledged their support to partner with Child Friendly Schools.
Dr King along with other UNICEF officials will visit primary schools in Dominica where CFS has been implemented with a view to assess the success of the program on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Dominica Vibes News