In 2009 UNICEF and UNESCO launched a broad program in many governorates across Iraq aiming at decentralizing authorities from Directorates of Education (DoE) to schools in order to have Child Friendly Schools, i.e. Schools management where children are at the center of decision-making and their needs and interests are addressed in the best way possible taking into consideration the diversity of areas. School Based Management (SBM) is one component of this program. This means that schools get certain financial and administrative authorities instead of requesting DoE’s authorization. This should help to improve schools faster and in a more adequate way. School Development Committees (SDC) were formed in every appointed school in Baghdad, consisting in 50% of school staff members and 50% community member. Each school has been awarded a grant in order to support sustainable development and improvement towards a Child Friendly School with SBM, which includes community mobilization.
SDCs are in charge of conducting a yearly School Self-Assessment, developing an Improvement Plan and build a budget on how they will use the grant. For now, SDCs have many focused on improving facilities and capacity-building for teacher, but not on community mobilization. UNICEF was looking for a partner that will support schools in mobilizing communities and get them actively involved in improving the school environment. Mercy Hands is that partner.
A team of Facilitators and Community Mobilizers will work together to achieve the following three outcomes: 1) PTAs of 95 schools are reinforced and their behaviour and attitude are changed to have more involvement in the development of the schools; 2) Establishing Focus Groups (women, students, or special interest) and conducting awareness campaigns in order to mobilize the community at large and encourage it to have an active participation in improving the school environment; and 3) Implementing Family Fun and PTA Fundraising events that will strengthen school-community partnership.