NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (November 09, 2012) — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Library Services Mrs. Lornette Queeley-Connor said the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) welcomed the Child Friendly Schools initiative and stood ready to work with all stakeholders, in support of a partnership that would promote and improve a gender sensitive, rights based approach to schooling.
Mrs. Queeley-Connor was at the time delivering remarks on behalf of Premier of Nevis and Minister of Education Hon. Joseph Parry, at the launch of a three-day Child Friendly Schools Training Workshop at Marion Heights on November 5th, 2012. The United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) sponsored workshop ended on November 8th.
“As an Administration that holds education as one of its top priorities, we welcome the notion of child-centered learning-teaching methodologies that emphasise learner participation and inclusion.
“An approach that, no doubt will also strengthen and cultivate the capacity of teachers, administrators and members of the wider community to see the value and worth of their own efforts at teaching and promoting learning achievement,” she said.
According to Mrs. Queeley-Connor, the Administration believed that the Child Friendly Model was a great way in which it could advocate for and promote quality in education.
“The Child Friendly Schools approach appears to be based on the concept that quality education involves the total needs of the child as the central focus and beneficiary of all education decisions.
“We are mindful but happy to be reminded that quality goes beyond teaching methods and learning outcomes to also include health, safety and adequacy of school facilities and supplies. So we are prepared to demonstrate a strong sense of ownership by committing to contribute in whatever way we can ensure the success of the programme,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary urged the participants to embrace the programme, noting that every nation in today’s world was actively involved in the challenging process of providing a quality education which met the demands of the 21st century.
“Educational systems, therefore, have to develop innovative outreach programmes focussing all efforts on creating positive conditions and individual skills that would foster resiliency and prepare our children for the real world, she said.
Meantime, Education Planner in the Department of Education Dr. Neva Pemberton told the Department of Information that the workshop on Nevis was part of the national launch of the Child Friendly Schools orientation training workshop for four pilot schools on Nevis, namely the Violet O Jeffers Nicholls Primary, Charlestown Primary, Elizabeth Pemberton Primary and the Joycelyn Liburd Primary.
“Those four schools are going to be here to learn the basic tenets of the Child Friendly School model which is a framework that UNICEF has put together to help improve the standards in our schools and also the quality of education that our students receive by focusing on three main principals. Those principals are inclusion, democratic participation, and child centeredness.
“The teams from our pilot schools consist of the principal, a member of the management team as well as a class room teacher. Those teams are going to be exposed to a number of topics that will help them to go back to their schools and to begin to implement some of those child friendly practises,” she said.
Among the training sessions, they were exposed to were school wide positive behaviour support; student support services which included academic and behavioural support; student participation and governance, child centered classrooms, parental involvement and monitoring and evaluation.
The Programme was first launched for 10 pilot schools in St. Kitts in late October and with the addition of four schools on Nevis, the Federation had 14 schools that would implement the programme.
Dr. Pemberton also explained that on completion of the training, the school teams would return to their schools to conduct a formal needs assessment which would identify what their school’s specific priority areas for action would be.
However, since the schools in the Federation had been having many issues around school violence the aim of the programme was to mitigate violence amongst and between children.
“We are going to focus on the behavioural aspects that are happening in our schools. So we are going to be looking at how well schools are implementing school wide positive behaviour support, we are also going to be looking at school safety and practises that are in place to protect children.
“So those are going to be the two focal points for the beginning of implementation. Based on the information from the Needs Assessment that would be conducted at the schools, schools would be able to come up with their own unique plan for action to build on the strengths that are already there in the schools, in terms of child friendly practices and as well tweak those areas that may need modification in order to strengthen the quality of education our students receive,” she said.