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“The Government’s vision is to create a child friendly schools system that provides a happy learning environment for children in all primary schools in the country,” said the Minister of Education, Bandula Gunawardena. “Because of this children will be able to eagerly participate in the learning process to achieve their goals.” UNICEF partnered with the Australian Government to provide the necessary funding support for this initiative. “We are very pleased to support the Government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to implementing a child friendly schools approach. This will help improve learning achievement and increase attendance and retention of primary school children,” said the Acting Australian High Commissioner, Ms Sonya Koppe.Based on the universal declaration of child rights, the child friendly schools’ concept has adopted six dimensions to ensure that schools meet all the rights of every child. The Ministry of Education has launched an important training manual on “Child Friendly Schools” in partnership with UNICEF and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).The manual on ‘Child Friendly Schools’ developed in Sinhala and Tamil provides guidance on key aspects that are critically needed to improve the quality of education in all primary schools in the country. Speaking at the launch event, UNICEF Representative, Reza Hossaini said: “An increased focus on child-friendly education will significantly improve the quality of learning for all children. The new guidance manuals contain comprehensive information to help educationists provide a conducive and interactive teaching and learning environment necessary for all children to develop” A school demonstrating child friendly learning will be: rights-based and proactively inclusive; gender responsive; improve children’s learning outcomes; healthy, safe and protective of children; actively engaged with students, families and communities; and supported by child-friendly systems, policies, practices and regulations.Since 2002, UNICEF has provided USD 76 million to improve the quality of education with the support of Australia Aid and other development partners. An additional USD 38 million for children affected by emergencies has also benefited children’s access to safe and quality education.

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