UNESCO Friendly School Project selected as UN Global Good Practice
The UNESCO Beirut School Project: “ Mobile schools to reach out to street and working children (Phase 2)” was selected among 200 global good practices chosen by the United Nations as projects that represent good practices in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The selection covered 75 countries and some 40 regional and global programmes. The project which covers several Arab States, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Yemen was also included in the recently published 2010 UNDG MDG Good Practices publication which covered cases from Fifteen UN agencies, national governments, civil society and private sector partners.
Knowing that the number of street and working children is drastically increasing, several regional initiatives have been taken in the Arab States to combat this Phenomenon and to reintegrate these children in formal education. Egypt’s Friendly School Project (Phase 2) was among these initiatives and brisk collaborative efforts to respond to this gruesome situation.
This project was initially established in Egypt in 2005 upon an agreement between the Egyptian Ministry of Education, UNESCO and the World Food Programme (WFP), and it has been expanded twice since its original inception. In 2005, the Japanese Fund-in-Trust, in direct cooperation with the Ministry for Education in Egypt, funded the addition of 25 Friendly Schools so that there are currently 50 fully operational Friendly Schools functioning across Egypt. In this agreement, UNESCO was committed to provide teacher training, educational materials, textbooks and furniture as well as to support the design and development of the adapted and accelerated curriculum. The core objective of this collaborative initiative was to broaden access and to reintegrate out-of-school and dropout children into formal education. It also aimed to address the specific psycho-social and educational needs of street and working children via a flexible learning mechanism and curriculum. Through its collaborative mode of action between different partners, this project encouraged partnership between the Ministry of Education, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and small company/workshop owners in helping street and working children. Further, this project supported the advancement of Education for All (EFA) in Egypt via diversifying the delivery of basic education.
This global good practice created a replicable, innovative and flexible educational model for providing education to a specific target group of children living in difficult circumstance; it has done so by developing and piloting an educational programme with relevant educational contents and an innovative teaching/learning methodology. Moreover, this project assisted the Ministry of Education in developing related educational policies and revising a national law that facilitates the inclusion of the aforementioned target group in formal schooling. Basically, this project engendered various positive results that yielded significant improvements in the educational system of the country where it was implemented. For instance, it enabled 100 teachers and reached an estimated 320 children per year (i.e. an average of 42 %) and reached out vulnerable marginalized children and their families. It also raised awareness about the issue of out-of-school children through the accompanying media campaign and the project’s profile in several TV programmes.Further, it emanated key elements of success such as the commitment of the Ministry of Education and the Government to diversify the education delivery mechanisms in addition to fortifying cooperation between various UN agencies. Teachers are the key to success. It also highlighted the importance of vital factors that can ameliorate education such as investing in teachers and providing motivating incentives to the learners.
This globally selected good practice case has significantly paved the way for better educational opportunities to children who live in the host country where it was implemented, and it kindled a torch of aspiration in their marginalized lives, hoping that they can enjoy their stipulated right to education under normal circumstances. It also intensified the team spirit among partners in order to achieve better results and to encourage other stakeholders to take part in this crucial initiative. It is worth pinpointing that the tremendously positive results that this project yielded encouraged further similar initiatives. Specifically, in 2006, the Japanese Fund-in-Trust funded the development of a Mobile Friendly School that travels across two governorates in Egypt as an extension of the fixed Friendly School.
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