As a former secondary school teacher working with three other former educators in UNICEF Canada’s Global Classroom program, I know the importance of supporting teachers in all the wonderful work they do with children and young people, from providing them with key skills and knowledge and empowering them through school and classroom initiatives, to helping them to better understand what it means to be a compassionate and connected global citizen. At an international level, UNICEF ‘takes a stand for teachers’ every day through our teacher training and school-based programs happening in countries from Sri Lanka to Macedonia to Malawi.
Here in Canada we work hand in hand with teachers, and on a daily basis we are reminded that our teachers are a creative and imaginative group, working hard to create a supportive, rights respecting and fun environment in their classrooms. We believe in building on the recommendations and suggestions from teachers in countries around the world. Taking inspiration from the Child Friendly School model and its teacher friendly and collaborative framework, we are now working in a similarly collaborative and teacher-driven way in Canada through our Rights Respecting Schools Initiative.
This initiative supports teachers in the amazing work that they are already doing in schools, and helps them to build on the successes and positive approaches that work towards the belief that schools should operate in the best interests of the child. Teachers are piloting this approach in a variety of creative ways, and they are working with us to develop an inclusive, participatory and respectful school culture for children and adults.
As one of the teachers in our very first Rights Respecting School in British Columbia stated, “When children know their rights it empowers them to make a difference in their community. They become leaders. They end up becoming more responsible for their actions for leadership, friendship, and in relationships. They’re not so much me-centered. It all comes from kids knowing they have rights.”
Really, what more could you ask for?