Twenty-seven school leaders have been certified after completing the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) online Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) course.
The programme was offered in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The presentation ceremony was held on January 30, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, under the theme ‘Developing Globally Responsible Leaders for Child-Friendly Schools: A Vision of Transformational Practice’.
Participants, who are from infant, primary and secondary-level public schools in the Education, Youth and Information Ministry’s six regions, learned about application of CFS principles to guide school design and construction; the principles of child-friendly schools; key characteristics of child-centred pedagogy; positive behaviours and a safe school environment, and leadership in child-friendly schools.
The course was held from November 1 to December 12, 2019.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr. Grace McLean, lauded the NCEL for developing yet another culturally relevant programme, which seeks to support the ongoing professional development of principals and improve the teaching and learning process.
Dr. McLean explained that child-friendly schools focus on children’s emotional, psychological and physical well-being.
“Under this programme, they are protected from verbal and emotional abuse and the trauma of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, prejudice or intrusion by teachers and peers. Child-friendly schools are child-centred and inclusive safe havens for our children,” the Acting Permanent Secretary said.
Meanwhile, Director/Principal, NCEL, Dr. Taneisha Ingleton, said in addition to creating safe, positive learning environments for children, the CFS Jamaica initiative is a response to the growing demand to leverage technology to reach every Jamaican child and to build the digital capacity of school leaders across the island.
“The programme seeks to support the professional development of principals, thereby providing readily accessible avenues for educators to retrieve and access digital content on child-friendly learning environment and processes,” Ingleton explained.
Deputy Country Representative, UNICEF, Vincente Teran, said the initiative seeks to give school leaders the support they need to create child-friendly schools.
“Over the past few months, we have used best practices and solid research to build the course. We built on UNICEF’s online global child-friendly school course to create the Jamaican leadership training component that focused on creating inclusive, gender-balanced and interactive child-friendly learning environments,” Teran contended.
“It is our hope that this will have a national impact, because we firmly believe that the Principal sets the tone for the teaching and learning that takes place at any school. Strong Principals make strong schools,” he added.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between NCEL and UNICEF on June 4 last year. Under the $6-million agreement, course material content will be made available to school leaders free of cost.