A Phone Call With Pierre, a Parent From E.P. Bihungwe

This is part three of a three-part series of exclusive interviews from stakeholders of E.P. Bihungwe school. Head here for part one and here for part two.

Our team recently connected with Pierre, the President of the School General Assembly Committee (SGAC), to hear his perspective on the school’s challenges, stories of transformation through Wellspring training, and the many ways in which parents are engaging in their child’s learning. 

Can you share with us your experience with the school and how you are involved?

Before Wellspring, the attendance in our school was not good. After my first training with Wellspring in 2018, I realized that I could take the lead in sensitizing parents on their involvement with their children’s education through supporting them to go back to school. I had been the SGAC chair for a while but did not know my responsibilities.  All that has changed now!

What have you learned from Wellspring Training, and how have you used it to support the parents and school community?

What I learned from Wellspring training has been my role and responsibilities in my children’s education and how best to support the school. 

I have learned how to support the people in my community to find solutions to their difficult situations, including helping many families solve their conflict as such parents who were always in conflicts of not sending their children to school. I have also helped the school in managing their finances. 

Now, I am more engaged in sensitizing the community, and the results are visible. Parents understand the importance of sending their children back to school. The attendance of children at school has risen from 50 percent to 90 percent as a result, even though we are still fighting to make sure that every child remains in school, especially those that have been historically marginalized.  However, we still do have a long way to go. 

I also now understand the importance of education for both girls and boys. I recall in our area, girls were less schooled. They were not allowed to attend school. When I started sensitizing the parents whose daughters were not going to school, I realized that “Education is for all, Boys and Girls.”

What stood out to you, and how has it helped you?

Being able to work as a volunteer is something that has transformed my life. 

Above all, the sense of volunteering is something that strengthens and encourages me to continue to serve my community. It is one of the reasons I wake up in the morning thinking not only about the schooling of my children but also those of my neighbours. 

How have parents been involved with the school and their children’s education?

In our school, parents have come a long way to understand their role in their children’s education. As a result, they have managed to send their children to school to fight school dropout. Now they have enrolled their girls in school. 

Parents are connected with the school. They started to know and communicate with their children’s teachers. Now they regularly visit the school to connect with the school leadership and teachers and follow how children learn. Some enter the classroom to see what is happening particularly at the nursery level.

After ABCD training, we met with all parents to share with them about the training, and they are the ones who decide on the activities they do in the school communities.

What kinds of improvements has the school seen because of it?

The biggest improvement is the ownership spirit parents now have. That is why they got well involved in building new classrooms by doing some community work. That is why they are also planning to build a school fence to keep children safe in the school compound. They have started contributing some money for this.

The school leadership no longer begs for their involvement in the school’s activities. They now understand that it is about them and for themselves.

What are you most proud of or excited about regarding the school and the parent involvement?

I am proud that E.P. Bihungwe is now seen as a community. Before Wellspring, the school was a matter of the Head Teacher and maybe the teachers only. But now, all stakeholders—school leaders, teachers, and parents—work together for the good of the school.

The Bihungwe school community has made great progress in its pursuit of quality education. The School General Assembly Committee has been one key part, along with Head Teacher Judith and Teacher Noel. While the school has made great strides, there is more to be done to reach every child in the community and bring them back to school–and you can be another key part in making that happen.

Will you come alongside the Bihungwe Community as a School Partner?

For $50 a month, you have the unique opportunity to inspire transformation at E.P. Bihungwe and help the community continue towards its goal of ensuring that every student is met with a quality education. Sign up as a School Partner today to partner with Bihungwe in their journey.

This is part three of this three-part interview series to meet and hear from stakeholders of E.P. Bihungwe.
Head here for part one, and here for part two.