Being Part of the Solution
“I’m committing myself to no longer being part of the problem. Instead, I’m going to be part of the solution,” said a parent at Shango Primary’s general assembly meeting. He was referring to the lack of comprehension in parents about the importance of education for their children. Previously, he held the belief that it was the government’s responsibility to educate his children and didn’t want to involve himself in the process. He didn’t contribute to the school community, didn’t visit his children’s teachers to hear about their performance, didn’t help with homework, and didn’t pay school fees, which put his children’s education at risk.
The lack of understanding about why education is important for children is a major problem in Rwanda today. Because parents haven’t been educated about the future value of schooling, they are more likely to pull their child out of school to earn money now. They are less likely to be involved with their child’s education, which manifests in many ways, such as not helping with homework and not engaging with teachers. Parents are key stakeholders in a child’s education and, without their involvement, a child is not supported on all sides, which hinders their path to success. To combat this issue Wellspring has developed our Asset-Based Community Development training to be a key part of our work in schools.
Asset-Based Community Development focuses on empowering people to help themselves. Instead of focusing on what they do not have, this approach emphasizes the community’s assets and strengths. Once the assets of the community are identified, they can be connected to areas of need and mobilized, which results in empowered citizens and improved community life. At Wellspring, we help parents to recognize that they play a significant role in the education of their children. Once this understanding takes root, our Community Involvement team works with these parents to realize how their assets and involvement can strengthen the quality of education at their local school.
At Shango Primary, the impact of Asset-Based Community Development training is abundantly clear. Because parents are engaging more and following up on the well-being of their children, the school leadership are being more responsible. The grounds are kept clean and tidy to protect children. Hand-washing stations have been installed and a barber service is offered by a local parent to promote hygiene in students. A school store has even been set up through the parent-teacher committee to help those in need purchase school uniforms, materials, and food at an affordable price. Parent involvement has transformed the school and the people in it.
After saying that he wanted to become part of the solution, this parent committed himself to promoting Wellspring’s trainings to other members of the community. He agreed to work with connectors (parents elected by the parent-teacher committee who are trusted to connect the community to their assets) to sensitize other parents to their role in their child’s education. Because of initiatives like this to reach out to other parents in the community, 90 of 108 students who had dropped out of the school have returned to complete their education. The parents are committed to reaching the families of those last eighteen students to bring the dropout rate at Shango Primary to zero. They believe that every child has the right to an education, no matter their circumstances.
The transformation of the parents at Shango Primary demonstrates how Asset-Based Community Development can strengthen a school and the education of every child in that school. Here at Wellspring, we believe in holistic transformation in education, which means working with parents to help them understand how to best use their assets to make quality education practical and sustainable at their local school. We look forward to the future as we continue our work with parents to empower them to become involved in their child’s education. Will you join with us on this journey?