NCEL Designs and Pilots Free Online Leadership Course on Child-Friendly Schools

The National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will today be piloting an online leadership course on Child-Friendly Schools (CFS). This comes as the world sets to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989.

The CRC is essentially a human rights treaty which addresses the civil, social, health and cultural rights of the child. As a party to the CRC, Jamaica is bound by international law to ensure that all children are provided with the healthcare, nutrition, education and protection that they need to survive and develop into global citizens. The successful implementation of this widely ratified human rights treaty will be contingent on educational programmes that are designed to introduce all stakeholders, particularly educators to the importance of creating and maintaining an enabling environment in which children’s voices are heard as they actively participate in their own learning experiences.

This online leadership course is designed by NCEL and UNICEF for school administrators and incorporates relevant, locally produced video content that are aligned to open access articles focusing on child-friendly learning environments, policies and processes. It is grounded in the premise that schools should be a safe place where children are nurtured and feel a sense of belonging. Over 40 school leaders have been selected to pilot this course that will explore topics such as Child-Centred Pedagogy, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Managing Maladaptive Behavious, Developing and Maintaining School-Community links, and Application of CFS Principles to Guide School Design and Construction. Dr Rebecca Tortello, Educational Specialist at UNICEF has lauded the CFS online course as it provides content from local practicing school leaders thus addressing the dearth of contextualized resources for Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean.  She explained that in teaching a course at the University of the West Indies (UWI) dealing with the sociology of schooling, she would often share the philosophy and theories underpinning the course while drawing on “foreign” content to get practical ways to explain the content so that it makes sense to the practitioners who are largely her audience.

The online course will officially be rolled-out in January 2020 and will be offered free of charge to school leaders from public institutions across the island.

Dr Taneisha Ingleton, Director Principal of NCEL, an agency of the Ministry of Education Youth and Information (MoEYI), indicated that the College is pleased to be working so intimately with UNICEF to ensure that the course on Child-Friendly Schools is “impactful, world class, and rich with content so that our principals, our educational leaders, our teachers and other stakeholders can learn more about this particular approach”.  She explained that the College thrives on partnership agreements and collaborative engagements indicating that the CFS initiative is just one that has been introduced in the quest to transform the educational landscape of Jamaica.  Mrs Camielle Michael-Patterson is the Programmes Officer in charge of the CFS course and indicated that she is confident that school leaders will embrace this course as they move towards improving their practice and the learning environment through the lens of the CFS standards and principles.

Dr Cheryl McLaughlin, Director of Programmes who led the design and implementation of the course indicated that the six-phase project involved sensitization and promotion components which ensured that all stakeholders including teachers, parents, students and community members were integrated in the process. She added that a CFS Song Competition dubbed “Song Champs” is also to be held to mark the start of the pilot. Winners of the Competition will receive awards and certificates and the winning song will anchor future CFS activities promoted by the National College.

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