INVESTING IN PARENTS
BY EMMANUEL SEROMBA, COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT TRAINER (RUBAVU)
Our vision is to continue supporting parents from Rubavu schools to be much more involved in their children’s education. This will be done by organizing training such as our upcoming workshop on “Healthy Families and Healthy Communities.” This is so important as families and communities are the foundation of education – and education starts at home. I will also be providing support to parent representatives by visiting them in their respective schools and attending their parent council meetings, where I will have the opportunity to share successes from other schools that can be learned from in Rubavu.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING TOWARDS THIS VISION IN 2019?
As community involvement trainers, we have recently been involved in 2 main activities. The first was a training module on “Parents and School/Teacher Relationships,” which we delivered to parent representatives from 75 Rubavu schools, as well as school leaders and school accountants (pictured below). This training aimed to help schools establish effective committees, as well as helping parents understand their roles and responsibilities in their children’s education and the life of the school.
We then visited each school, offering support to the parent council members and monitoring how they were implementing what they had learned so far. Our Community Involvement trainers met with those who had undergone the training and together they worked out what support was needed to ensure meaningful implementation of our Asset Based Community Development approach.
WHAT KIND OF CHANGE ARE YOU WITNESSING AMONG THESE PARENTS?
Members of the parent council, and parents in general, have become more aware of their roles and responsibilities in the school life. They have started organizing and attending meetings, working closely with the school leadership, visiting the schools and teachers, doing some physical activities through community works like cleaning the school compound, building fences for schools and constructing/repairing classrooms, repairing students’ desks, and working with the wider community including local leaders. Nowadays, parents are also much more involved in fighting school dropout, and are choosing to enrol their little ones in nursery schools.
COULD YOU SHARE A SPECIFIC IMPACT STORY WITH US?
There are a lot of stories of impact in different schools, but let me share one related specifically to fighting school dropout:
Rubavu district is one of those districts where the level of understanding about education is very low. Being a district with a large area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, many parents are so busy and cross the border every day to go for work in DRC for economic survival. However, these opportunities are threats for children’s education because parents, who leave home very early and return very late, do not have the time to provide enough care to their children, and are not aware of what is happening with their children during the day. Some parents ask their elder children (especially girls) to take care of their younger brothers and sisters. Due to money-making opportunities, some other children go themselves for such activities like selling potatoes, vegetables, sugar canes. All of these have been reasons for student dropout in Rubavu.
With the training provided by Wellspring, parents have understood that these practices are not appropriate in preparing their children for a bright future. Therefore, they have set up inclusive strategies to fight school dropout, and have decided to work closely with all stakeholders including the school leadership, teachers, local leaders, and children themselves.
At Rubona and Kinigi Primary Schools, they have initiated the use of the village administrative leadership model (“Umudugudu”) and have appointed classroom leaders for children from the same village. These “Children Leaders” are in charge of knowing what is happening daily with their fellow students who are late or absent, and following up with these students to discover the reasons for their lateness or absence. They also go to their homes to either bring them back to school or to talk to their parents about addressing their lateness or absence. This strategy has tremendously reduced school dropout rate in those schools … in fact, in these two primary schools, there is now 0% dropout!
HOW CAN OUR PARTNER COMMUNITY PRAY FOR YOU?
We really value the prayers of Wellspring’s partners and community. As education is a matter of understanding that requires internal change, we request your prayers for this change. We believe that this expected change is not, at the end of the day, our business but God’s business.
We would also value your prayers for us as a team that travels all over the district with its challenging geographical features, so that we may experience God’s protection and safety.
Please pray also for God’s provision so that this work may continue and transformation may reach all children and education in Rubavu and beyond.
Thank you for your prayers and support in this ministry.