Back to School: Engaged Parents

We’ve been diving deeper into G.S. Kagugu’s transformation into a model school. So far, we’ve talked about how effective school leaders push their school towards success and how caring teachers promote learning in the classroom. Today, we’re looking at how engaged parents strengthen school communities.

Parents are a vital part of a child’s education. Here in North America, a parent’s role isn’t over when the kids are dropped off at school. There are parent-teacher meetings to attend, agendas to sign each night, and model solar systems to help design. While the involvement of parents may vary between families, most kids have some sort of support system to turn to when they don’t understand a homework question. Because the encouragement for their education doesn’t stop the moment the school bell rings, they are being equipped for success on all sides.

This is the case for plenty of families in Rwanda as well, but unfortunately the majority of children in the public school system are not being supported in their learning at home. As they didn’t go to school themselves, many parents don’t realize they should be carving out time for their kids to study or asking them about their lessons. With the new post-genocide schooling initiatives, there has been an assumption that education falls within the realm of the government, not the parent.

But this is shifting. Parents are starting to realize they do have a role in their child’s education, but they aren’t sure how they should become involved or even if they have the means to do so. And that’s why Wellspring developed our Asset-Based Community Development approach (ABCD).

Before engaging with Wellspring’s program, parents at G.S. Kagugu were impassive and uninvolved with the school. Few parents attended school meetings due to poor communication and tensions between parents and school leaders. They would not offer time or help for schoolwork at home and would not visit with teachers to check on their children’s performance. There was a deep lack of trust between the parents and the school community, and the school was suffering because the parents were unwilling to help out.

This all changed when our community trainers began working with parents. Our Asset-Based Community Development training focuses on mobilizing parents and empowering them to bring about change through their own skills and talents, all while placing an emphasis on a parent’s role and responsibility in their child’s education. This program works in tandem with our School Development Program to help the school become self-sustainable and ensure the children are supported from all sides as they receive a quality education.

Today, parents at G.S. Kagugu are taking ownership over the school at the centre of their community. They understand that their involvement strengthens G.S. Kagugu and the education of every child at the school. When there is a general meeting, the attendance levels are high and there is a willingness to collaborate between leaders, parents, and teachers. Parents now call teachers to check in on the performance of their children, and teachers reach out to parents when there is a problem. Students are being encouraged to study at home and are returning to school ready for their lessons the next day. Parents are even volunteering their time and skills to help construct a new school hall. New parent initiatives are beginning all the time, and they all work towards strengthening the school and supporting the kids.

A healthy school that provides a strong education is at the centre of any vibrant community, and parental involvement is key in making this happen. The parents at G.S. Kagugu have propelled their school—and their children—towards success. Wellspring has a vision of this happening in every school community across Rwanda. You can be part of making this vision become a reality by partnering with G.S. Gisozi I. Will you be part of G.S. Gisozi I’s journey?