What are the ingredients for a successful school? Well trained, passionate teachers? Healthy, attentive students? Strong leadership? A safe and well maintained environment?
We know all of these components are needed, but equally important is the support of an active, engaged community of parents and others who are involved in local governance. Without their support, even the most skillful teachers, the most diligent students, and the most nurturing principals will fall short of achieving their potential.
Buy-in beyond the classroom
Children need to be supported both in and beyond the classroom to pursue their education. That’s why our SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (SDP), one of the newest programs in our armoury, is also one of the most important. It’s the glue that pulls all of our programs together. In the rural areas where we operate, there is a high level of poverty, and achieving community involvement is a real challenge when there are so many competing priorities for families.
Our goal is very simple: we want to encourage active community involvement in all aspects of education. This ranges from the physical environment, to the teaching quality, to the incentives for children and parents to address low attendance and much more.
We have started trialling the program this year, and in June, we reached a turning point…
To help the school is to help your children
Prey Tou Teng school in Bavel is a success story for the School Development Program. The local community have elected a School Development Team, who have been guiding a ‘visioning’ process, where members of the community have an opportunity to share their thoughts on how the school could be improved. This team have also led the development of a plan for how they are going to work towards this vision, and how they are going to draw on the support of the local community to do so. SeeBeyondBorders supported the team every step of the way and helped them to present the plan to the community in June.
A record number of 56 parents attended this presentation – 70% of all the students’ parents at the school. One parent representative commented to the group: “The school belongs to us; you are the ones who make decisions, because it is your house and your children’s’ future. To help the school, is to help your children!”
Parents pitching in
In Tatrav school in Angkor Thom, there have been similar successes as increasing numbers of community people join the process. Their planning workshop took place in May, and raised ‘gaining parental involvement’ as a priority. Sure enough, at the SDP meeting in June, a record 30 parents attended and agreed to collect $1.25 per family to repair school fences, improve the gardens and connect water for the toilets. This is a hugely encouraging result, with the community showing real dedication to the future of their local school, their children’s education, and the education of future generations.
After a huge amount of work developing SDP, we’re delighted at these recent successes. There is a long road ahead, but this is fantastic progress in both districts.
Photo: Parents and community members help to fix up Prey Tou Teng school as part of their School Development Plan