Friendly One-Classroom School Project
Egypt has been exerting great efforts to make sure that all children have access to school through the 1990Education for All (EFA) initiative. However, the number of out of school children (age group 8-14) is still as high as 1.6 million. The poorest children constitute the largest proportion of out of school children. They are the first to drop out of school; the first to enter into under-age labor, and the first to become street children. Also, they become subjected to other forms of exploitation, discrimination or abuse.
Within the context of EFA, UNESCO started the school project for those children since 2004. The project is under the name 'Friendly Schools for Children Living in Difficult Circumstances'. UNESCO, World Food Programme (WFP), and the Ministry of Education (MOE) jointly agreed to implement this project. UNESCO, MOE, and civil society organizations (CSOs) have cooperated to design and implement a strategic program for the children in difficult circumstances.
UNESCO played a big role in designing the project at the technical level and supervising the implementation of its different stages. It has been:
- Providing financial and technical support to develop appropriate educational curriculum
- Furnishing and equipping the classrooms
- Providing pre- and in- service training for teachers
- Conducting an evaluation of the project to benefit from the results in expanding the project
- Training children's families by using the schools as Multi-purpose Community Learning Centers
WFP provided food for the children at schools and take home rations where appropriate. CSOs provided the school buildings and shared in managing the schools.
The idea of the project is marked with flexibility, in terms of the curriculum, timing and methods for learning. It is remarkable that children who complete the modules can receive official educational certificates. This enables them to be re- integrated in the mainstream school system or to have better jobs.
UNESCO and MOE developed a new national curriculum to fit the psychological and social needs of these children. This curriculum included learning contents covering human values, as well as, artistic, professional, and athletic activities.
So far, 28 schools have been running all over the country with UNESCO's support. In 2007, a Ministerial decree was issued stating that this school project was accepted as part of the public school system. Currently, MOE is sustaining this initiative. Recently, the Embassy of Japan has been supporting the expansion of the project to reach more children. This helped increasing the number of the schools established by UNESCO with 22 more schools in 8 governorates to be opened soon.
In addition, an innovative methodology was inaugurated in April 2009 to ensure access of more children in these schools. This approach is known as the 'Friendly Mobile School'. It is implemented currently as a pilot project in Upper Egypt where numerous working children are found.