Sharjah24: The Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO), an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah (SCFA), has honoured 26 schools and nurseries as part of the ‘Child Friendly Schools and Nurseries’ (CFSN) project, an initiative launched in August 2019 by SCFO, in collaboration with UNICEF and in partnership with Sharjah Private Education Authority and Sharjah Education Council. SCFO honoured the 13 private schools and 13 public nurseries which have successfully completed the requirements of the project’s pilot phase at a virtual ceremony held today (Sunday). Her Excellency Dr Khawla Al Mulla, Secretary General of SCFA, Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SCFO, Saji Thomas, Chief, Child Protection at UNICEF Gulf Area Office, His Excellency Ali Al Hosani, Director of Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), His Excellency Mohammed Al Mulla, Secretary General of Sharjah Education Council (SEC), as well as principals and staff from the participating schools and nurseries were among those who attended the event. As part of its pilot phase, public nurseries and private schools in Sharjah were encouraged to promote and advance children’s rights in their standard of education as learners and key beneficiaries. The next phase of the project will target all public and private schools and nurseries in the emirate, and will include the integration of differently abled children and children with special needs into mainstream education.  Her Excellency Dr Khawla Al Mulla, Secretary General, SCFO, welcomed the ceremony’s guests, and praised the efforts of the participating schools and nurseries in achieving Sharjah’s inclusive developmental project. Her Excellency Al Mulla added: “Raising young generations in a safe environment and providing a safe environment serves as an investment in the future, where every student who grows up in a safe environment and receives quality education will undoubtedly contribute to achieving the UAE’s vision to build a strong knowledge-based society”. During the ceremony, Dr. Hessa Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SCFO, said: “Two years ago, we set clear goals to promote children’s rights in the educational environment, which were manifested in the Child Friendly Schools and Nurseries project, one of the key initiatives of Sharjah’s Child Friendly City project”. Al Ghazal added that SCFO has prepared a series of recommendations based on the outcomes of the pilot phase. These include: “Raising awareness on child rights and integrating them into the curriculum as well as routines in both schools and nurseries; boosting children’s participation by encouraging them to express their thoughts and opinions; organising capacity building programmes for school and nursery staff as well as parents; involving parents in decisions that impact children’s interests; and raising awareness of children, parents and staff on terminology related to children’s rights.” Saji Thomas, Chief, Child Protection, UNICEF, said in his address: “A child friendly school is one that acts in the best interests of the child, providing an educational environment that is safe, healthy and protective. It should be staffed with trained teachers, equipped with adequate resources and provide conditions appropriate for learning. Today, as the world is dramatically changing and many new challenges arise, children’s education must take into account their individual needs, the quality of learning, the acquisition of differentiated skills for work and life, as well as the values of peace, tolerance, sustainability and care for the environment.” He added: “The project is guided by the combined experience of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF’s experience in implementing a rights-based approach to education, as well as evidence pertaining to child development and growth. Federal and Emirate legislations and policies such as the Wadeema Law, the UAE National strategy for Motherhood and Childhood and the UAE Strategic Plan to Support the Rights and Development of Children with Disability have all been instrumental in setting the project’s standards.” His Excellency Ali Al Hosani, Director, SPEA said: “The Child Friendly Schools and Nurseries project is yet another stellar addition to Sharjah’s rich record of success. In line with the emirate’s vision, SPEA has opened up new horizons, enriching the educational environment and thus ensuring a brighter and more prosperous future for society.” He called on all educational institutions and students to contribute to this national project by sharing their experiences, thereby promoting a culture of creativity and innovation. His Excellency Mohammed Al Mulla, Secretary General, SEC, said: “Sharjah’s continued efforts to ensure the wellbeing of children converges with our aims and objectives at SEC. Through launching innovative initiatives and programmes aimed at increasing children’s participation in issues related to their safety, and development in the fields of education, health and creativity, we ensure the highest quality standards to our students. We are proud to announce that 13 out of 28 public nurseries under the SEC have fulfilled the requirements of the Child Friendly Schools and Nurseries project’s pilot phase, providing a safe environment where students can thrive, grow their potential, and improve their lives.” Last week, SCFO held a series of consultation sessions with principals and officials of the participating nurseries and schools as well as the project’s evaluation committee to discuss the way forward. They addressed the challenges faced and shared suggestions and ideas to devise an action plan for the next phase.  The schools that were honoured included: The International School of Creative Science, Al Ansar International School, Taryam American Private School, Al Kamal American International School, Al Rushed American Private School, Rosary Private School Branch, ASPAM Private School, Leaders Private, School, Our Own English Private School – Girls, Amity Private School, Rosary Private, GEMS Cambridge International Private School, Ambassador Private School. Nurseries honoured included: Umm Al Fadl, Al Rahmania, Al Hirah, Jumana, Al Falah, Al Thameed, Kalba, Al Qadisiyah, Suhaila, Al Madina Al Basma, Al Layyeh, Ghorfati Al Sagheera, and Dibba Al Hisn.  Members of the assessors’ committee who were recognised at the ceremony included Khadija Ahmed Bamakhrama of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services; Ziad Shattat of SPEA; Shaima Al Hosani of SEC; Eng. Tariq Haniyeh of the Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority; Aisha Al Hashemi of SEC; Eng. Abdullah Al Majidi of the Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority; Abdel Moneim Al Dwairi of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services; Alia Al Hammadi of Sharjah Health Authority; Laheeb Al Metwally of SPEA; Maryam Al Kindi and Moza Al Suwaidi of  Sharjah Social Services Department; and Meera Al Ali of the Sharjah Health Authority. Since its launch by SCFO as part of the Sharjah Child-Friendly City project, the ‘Child Friendly Schools and Nurseries’ initiative has organised 23 training programmes for 2,500 teachers, educational experts, social workers and students from schools and nurseries in the emirate. The initiative also held 80 consultation sessions by experts and the project’s assessors committee for schools and nurseries.