A new guide from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) offers case studies on how to make schools child-friendly and explores deterrents to school attendance.
Released here on Thursday, Child-friendly Schools and Systems , prepared in collaboration with the Union Human Resource Development Ministry, is a set of suggestions to schools in being child-friendly and secure and ensuring rights-based quality education for children.
The guide says well-lit classrooms, potable water, clean toilets, nutritious mid-day meals, safety of students, activity-based teaching and civil society and community-based interventions are some of the key elements in making schools child-friendly. It explains that in eight panchayats in Udaipur district of Rajasthan, only 59 per cent of the children aged between six and 14 attend school because of long distances between school and home and the lack of safe roads.
Maoist strikes in Chhattisgarh, which led to massive displacement of residents from several regions, have had an adverse impact on school attendance, while in West Bengal, an experiment involving peer tutoring between children from advantageous backgrounds and the economically weaker sections had a positive outcome.
Best practices from across the country are highlighted. For instance, the effectiveness of activity-based learning through ‘Snehabala’ tried out as a pilot project in parts of Andhra Pradesh with high dropout rates led to its expansion across the State.
“It has been four years since the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act was launched in India for the six-14 age group. The guideis a package that urges stakeholders to expand the focus beyond quantity and accelerate the shift from ‘right of access to education’ to ‘right to learn and [receive] quality education,’” a UNICEF official said.Kareena’s support
Kareena Kapoor, actor, who released the guide, said she did not like going to school as she felt left out for being an average student.
“I used to sleep in the class and was not given much attention in the class as I was an average student. Frontbenchers got all the attention. I would feel left out and tell my mother that I would study at home or watch a movie,” she recalled.
(With inputs from PTI)