Evidence to support the widely held belief that 'child friendly' schools (CFS), classrooms and teaching methodologies in primary schools lead to improved learning outcomes, not only test scores but wider competencies and skills.
A rights-based, child-friendly school has two basic characteristics: It is a child-seeking and a child-centred school. Above all, it must reflect an environment of good quality characterised by several essential aspects: inclusive of children, effective for learning, healthy and protective of children, gender-sensitive and involved with children, families, and communities.
This report includes a collection of case studies from a number of countries (Bosnia and Herzogovina, China, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Macedonia, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uganda). These case studies aim to capture the richness of experiences UNICEF and its partners have accumulated through applying the CFS approach in their programmatic work on quality. In most cases, students outperformed those in 'traditional' classrooms. Evidence to support the demonstration of these outcomes came from the perspectives of educators, parents, the children themselves, and from independent observation in selected classrooms.
Recommendations for improving CFS programming included identifying strong school leaders and equipping them with more skills and capacity to implement CFS, as well as developing and instituting strategies that will improve readiness for implementation at the school and community level. CFS was also identified as a good model for teaching life skills.
Baxter, S. Helpdesk Report: Child Friendly Schools and Learning Outcomes. Human Development Resource Centre, UK (2010) 6 pp.