Entries marked "Child Friendly schools"

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Transitional learning spaces provide safe, resilient learning environments for children living in emergencies

By Carlos Vasquez
Architect, Child Friendly School Designer, UNICEF

NEW YORK, USA, 7 February 2014 – As we publish the 2013 edition of the Compendium of Transitional Learning Spaces (TLS), over 2 million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, making this one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history, with no foreseeable end. The refugee population in the region could reach over 4 million by the end of 2014. Children must endure far-reaching hardships and danger to escape and seek refuge across neighboring countries. This disrupts their schooling and moreover, the most vulnerable children are often disproportionally affected.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1330/Noorani
Eager to respond to their teacher, children raise their hands during an Arabic lesson at a UNICEF-supported kindergarten in Homs in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Similar conflicts and natural disasters are affecting local communities and marginalized children in many parts of the world today: escalating violence in the Central African Republic is posing a threat to children, where thousands are being recruited into armed groups instead of going to school; the Arab Spring has disrupted access to education for millions of children; and in areas of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan, about 90 per cent of school buildings were damaged – more than 3,200 schools in all – leaving over a million pupils and 34,000 teachers with no place for learning.

Less than a month after the Typhoon, I was very happy to hear that the Ministry of Education in the Philippines was using the TLS 2011 to budget, program and plan a back-to-school campaign for the hardest-hit children in Tacloban. The TLS Compendium has helped drive the emergency response and enabled partners to rebound quickly and start designing appropriate and cost-effective learning spaces for children and families impacted by the Typhoon.

There is a critical difference between spending money versus investing in education. In Jordan’s Zaatari camp, which hosts nearly 130,000 Syrian refugees, we convinced donors of the long-term benefits of healthy learning environments in emergencies. A TLS is not a stand-alone structure ‘classroom,’ but a holistic learning environment with a set of facilities, including WASH services, areas for external play, internal learning spaces, teacher and staff space and perimeter fencing. In the Zaatari refugee camp, we designed and built three schools to serve more than 15,000 students in two shifts.

The TLS Compendium is predicated on the principles of Child Friendly Schooling, the minimal components to activate healthy learning environments for children. The profound social benefits of this programming are far-reaching. The second edition of the TLS compendium follows the same initiative of the 2011 edition: collect and centralize technical information, develop basic architectural drawings and provide cost-effective recommendations to improve the quality of these spaces in the context of emergencies.

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Bringing learning to Syrian refugee children in Lebanon

By Miriam Azar

“A child in school is a child protected.” – UNICEF Representative in Lebanon Annamaria Laurini

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In the Philippines, children ring in the new school year

By Diana Valcarcel

The official reopening of schools is a positive step towards recovery in parts of the Philippines still struggling to cope with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

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Podcast #89: Year-end wrap on Beyond School Books: building a peaceful society through education

By Rudina Vojvoda

© UNICEF/UKLA2013-00780/Karin Schermbrucker Iraq, 2013
Children sit at the Child Friendly Space (CFS) in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq.

NEW YORK, USA, 26 December, 2013 – In this year-end episode of Beyond School Books, we bring you perspectives on peacebuilding from our guests this past year.

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In the Philippines, schools gradually reopening after Typhoon Haiyan

By Diana Valcarcel

While a massive recovery effort continues in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan’s deadly onslaught, the reopening of schools is giving children a place to learn again – and to feel safe.

PALO, Philippines, 6 December 2013 – It is not just another day in Palo. Then again, since Typhoon Haiyan blasted through a swath of the Philippines, life has been incredibly difficult – especially for children.

© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Valcarcel
UNICEF Education Officer Yul Adelfo Olaya with children of Palo Central School, in the tent where they now attend class, in Leyte province. UNICEF is providing tents, learning and recreational materials, and other support.

Alexa and Carl are bouncing around the entrance of Palo Central School, excited about the new school tent and seeing their friends again.

“I am happy to be back to school because my classmates survived,” says Alexa, 8.

In areas of the Philippines affected by the typhoon, about 90 per cent of school buildings were damaged – more than 3,200 schools in all – leaving over a million pupils and 34,000 teachers with no place for learning. In Leyte province alone, 760 schools were damaged. The Philippine Government, with the support of UNICEF and other partners, has worked to get children back to a normal schedule as quickly as possible, first with a ‘soft’ opening of schools in December, to be followed by a full reopening in January.

Moving towards recovery

In addition to supplying tents for classrooms, UNICEF has provided learning and recreational materials and has brought in teachers – some of them from other disaster-struck areas to share their knowledge and experience. Latrines and hand-washing facilities for boys and girls have been installed, as well.

As of 2 December, eight UNICEF-supported schools in Leyte province had reopened their doors, and three more were due to be open as soon as the debris could be removed to make space for a tent. An additional 25 schools are scheduled to be set up in the coming days.

© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Valcarcel
Carl, 11, and Alexa, 8, at Palo Central School. Children in typhoon-struck areas of the Philippines are returning to learning, beginning with a ‘soft’ opening of schools in December, followed by a complete reopening in January.

Getting back to learning helps children establish a routine, an important step toward recovery, and it helps teachers identify which pupils are in need of special attention.

UNICEF Education Officer Yul Adelfo Olaya used to be a student here at Palo Central School. “The message that wants to be sent is that it’s possible, that even in the destruction, education can continue,” he says.

Children were worried, he says, because they had lost their school materials in the typhoon.

“They kept telling me how they will continue their schools without books. They have been trying to dry them,” says Mr. Olaya. “The experience of children in surviving in this kind of disaster is more important than the content of the textbooks combined.”

Before the typhoon, Palo Central School had 1,913 pupils. When it reopened, about half of them showed up. Six children from the school reportedly died in the storm.

Today at Palo Central School, it’s clear that the typhoon does not have the last word, even if the surroundings are a picture of destruction. It’s the energy of children at school, united and raising their hands together, that will shape the future of the country.

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Hope and resilience for learning, amid destruction in the Philippines

By Zafrin Chowdhury

Zafrin Chowdhury was part of a UNICEF team that recently visited schools in communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

TACLOBAN, Philippines, 3 December 2013 – Damage and debris are the only sights in Tacloban. The occasional building that stands is a hollow shell, with roof and windows blown away. The road from Tacloban to Guiuan passes through the hardest hit region of Leyte Province. On both sides, the road is lined with miles of devastated forest. Thousands of coconut trees, cowered by the wind, are broken and bent. Electrical poles are uprooted. Nothing stands.

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