Chinese children bid farewell to gender discrimination in child-friendly schools
Dad is reading a newspaper and Mum is doing housework -- images such as
these are no way to illustrate the family relationship in "child-friendly
"Schools using textbooks with pictures like that are not
gender responsive and will not be termed child-friendly schools," said Anjana
Mangalagiri, an official with the UNICEF Office for China.
support from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), plans to spread "child-friendly
school" teaching methods to 1,000 primary schools in 10 western provinces and
regions over the next five years. The "child-friendly school", a learning
quality philosophy promoted by UNICEF, is spreading to 155 countries and regions
According to Mangalagiri, child-friendly schools should have five
key dimensions. They should include all children, be academically effective and
relevant for children, be healthy, safe and protective, be gender responsive,
and also be involved with students, families and communities.
said even if more and more girls are being sent to school, their teachers and
parents have still not realized the real value of giving education to
"In many developing countries, including China, girls were
traditionally taught to play with dolls and boys to play with cars, which goes
against the child-friendly school gender discrimination standard," she
In a child-friendly school, textbooks and learning materials should
portray girls and boys equally as "heroes". Teachers should give girls and boys
equal responsibilities, such as being head of class or head of group. School
should enforce polices against bullying, discrimination and sexual
"The education methods of child-friendly schools are a form of
quality education in China, designed to empower children and allow them to
develop in a well-rounded and holistic manner," said Zheng Zengyi, a senior
official with the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE).
MOE and UNICEF have
jointly test launched the "child-friendly school" program in 100 primary schools
in west China. MOE is now working on a national standard for child-friendly
"If the program is successful in such a big country as China, it will
spread around the world," said Mangalagiri.
She revealed that China will
include emergency-response and psychological protection in its national standard
in child-friendly schools.
Primary education is key to China's nine-year
compulsory education. In 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded,
primary education enrollment rates were only 20 percent. Sustained efforts by
successive Chinese governments have raised the primary school enrollment rate to
99 percent. However, fully implementing nine-year compulsory education in
China's vast rural areas is still a herculean task.
According to the amended
Compulsory Education Law, which went into effect in China on September 1, the
Chinese government will increase its investment in compulsory education and
endeavor to achieve balanced development of rich and poor education
Starting this spring, certain types of school fees in west China's
rural areas were abandoned.
Educational Minister Zhou Ji said central and
local governments would spend 218.2 billion yuan (US$27.3 billion) on the
nine-year compulsory education program in rural areas by