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$6m pumped into initiative for more child-friendly schools

Published:Wednesday | June 5, 2019 | 12:38 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

The National College for Education Leadership (NCEL) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) valued at close to $6 million for the development of digital content to support an online programme in line with the agency’s thrust to create more child-friendly schools.

The programme, which is scheduled to roll out in October, will be delivered through NCEL’s learning management system and the Ministry of Education’s other online channels.

NCEL Director and Principal Dr Taneisha Ingleton said that although there is documentation on creating child-friendly schools, there were no visuals to show how these concepts could be put into practice.

“What we do not have is actual digital content. So let us say that a principal wants to see what that looks like. What do I do as a principal to ensure that my school is operating in this paradigm? When you have digital content and you have a course that is online where you have readily available media, you can just go on, download and look at what it is you need to do and model that approach. That is what we don’t have,” Ingleton said.

Speaking to The Gleaner after the signing of the agreement at the offices of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information in Kingston, the NCEL director and principal said that at least 10 schools will be funded under the project with plans for others to follow suit.

“We are working with UNICEF for this 10, and then we will see what the success looks like, because since it is digital content, everyone will be able to see this and then we will look [at] which other schools we would want to include on a formal basis ... . So we are funding this 10 as a model for individuals to see,” Ingleton said.

Country representative for UNICEF, Mariko Kagoshima, said that after a 2015 study found that the teaching methodology used in 50 per cent of schools inspected to be unsatisfactory or in need of immediate intervention, the programme became necessary.

She said the programme will be developed “using best practices and solid research to develop an online leadership training course on crafting inclusive, gender-balanced, interactive, child-friendly learning environments to produce, intellectual, critical thinkers, who [make] healthy lifestyle choices and are more resilient in the face of emergencies”.