In Education, UNICEF is trying to lead policy improvements that will help children from the most vulnerable groups to realize their right to education.
In Education, UNICEF is trying to lead policy improvements that will help children from the most vulnerable groups to realize their right to education. In particular, emphasis is being put on tracking out-of-school children and designing modalities of their re-integration into the education process. Another important component of the programme looks at inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream education, thus providing opportunities for those children to be integrated into the society. The programme also attaches great importance to early childhood development through supporting pre-school teacher training in communities where pre-schools were recently established through the World Bank loan.
OUT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
Armenia does not have a functioning system of tracking and referring out of school children. UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education and Science to establish a system that will be based on two pillars – (1) data systems management – comparison of population registry with School Management Information Systems (SMIS); (2) cooperation between education and social services in response interventions to get children back to school (or to retain them). Under (1), as a follow-up to successful pilot of SMIS by UNICEF in 20% of schools, it was decided to upgrade the system and to mainstream it in all schools in 2013-2014 with the financial assistance (loan) of the World Bank. Under (2), within the Integrated Social Services reform, a high-level inter-ministerial group to develop a general framework for protocols of cooperation between services was established. Based on the generic framework, they will also develop a few specific protocols- one of them on out-of-school children. The model will be piloted in one region before a full scale-up.
SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS ASSESSMENT
WHO International Classification of Functions and Disabilities Children and Youth version is an important tool that focuses not on the medical diagnosis, but on the functional abilities of the person and the environment where he/she lives. UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) of Armenia to incorporate ICF-CY in special education needs assessment and individual education planning processes to reflect the successful examples of its application in other countries. An international expert group (Porto Institute of Portugal) is already working with the group of local experts to revise the standards, procedure and tools of special education need assessment and individual education planning.
SPECIAL SCHOOL TRANSFORMATION
UNICEF (child protection and education sections) has already started working on the transformation of two special boarding schools in Syunik region with the engagement of an international and local expert. Special school transformation is an important issue on the agenda of MoES as the amended law on education which is currently in the Parliament envisions the transformation of at least half of them to assessment and support resource centers that will support inclusive schools in their geographic areas. UNICEF has proposed using a territorial approach to systematically shift from residential to community-based service provision starting with transforming all residential institutions (social and educational) for children and creating alternative services in three regions and gradually scaling them up. The concept has been shared with USAID, Ministry of Labour and Social Issues and Ministry of Education and Science for consideration and action.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
UNICEF continues to focus on teacher capacity development for newly established pre-schools in rural communities (the pre-school establishment is financed through the World Bank loan). The programme puts emphasis on teaching methodologies that are child-friendly and child-centered, inclusive, gender-responsive and are involving parents, in particular, fathers. UNICEF supported to develop and incorporate a module on inclusive education in the teachers training package.
Inclusiveness in education starts not from school, but also at pre-school level as early years are critical in child’s development and inclusion in early ages will make inclusion in schools much easier. Therefore, apart from expanding the program to new communities, UNICEF also works to raise the number of children with disabilities who go to pre-schools through awareness raising and teacher sensitization.
DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
Disaster risk is the potential loss expressed in lives, health status, livelihoods, assets and services, which could occur to a particular community or a society due to the impact of a natural hazard1. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a systematic approach to identifying, assessing and reducing that risk. Specifically, the purpose of disaster risk reduction is to minimise vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society in order to avoid (prevent) or to limit (mitigate and prepare for) the adverse impacts of natural hazards, and facilitate sustainable development. Disaster risk reduction is also recognised as a key climate change adaptation strategy.
UNICEF has long recognised the importance of disaster risk reduction. UNICEF fully supported the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in the 1990s. In 2005 UNICEF committed to the Hyogo Framework for Action and in 2006 became a formal member of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) System. Since 2006, UNICEF has played a key role not only in strengthening the ISDR System but has been an active participant in a number of global, regional and national networks.