“It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb and it has become more meaningful now than ever when families are caught up with the ‘busyness’ of living. The school exists to serve the children of the community and it is natural that the community be involved in the learning and schooling of the children. The school needs to rope in the help of prominent members of the community to help in various ways, such as providing financial aid, moral support for the teachers, and be present during important school ceremonies. It is important that the school builds strong social and political connections with the community. There should be a philosophy of partnership and be willing to share decision making with families and relevant members of the community. There should be trust and transparency so that everyone works toward addressing problems and realizing the vision of the school. There is consistent and convincing evidence that high levels of community involvement have a major influence on student achievement.
By community, it means the neighborhood or the places around the school. It also involves the local residents who might not have children in the school but have an interest for the school, and local groups in the neighbourhood (Henderson and Mapp, 2002). Maintaining strong relationships with the community is crucial as the community can offer financial aid to improve school infrastructure, provide additional resources to improve curricular programmes, after school activities, and also provide the support to the teachers and act in between the school and/or teachers with parents to resolve conflicts. From my personal experience, the community, which my school served, had helped my teachers and me through numerous problems and helped bring success to the school. To name a few, the community helped the school to organize ‘A Night of Music’ when the school band played with an international band which was visiting the country thus, providing a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for the students. With a prominent member of the community, we planted 100 trees, which transformed the school into a ‘school in a garden’. The community also helped fixed leaking roofs, broken toilets, built new buildings and equipped the school with computers. The amazing thing was whoever could helped, helped in their own ways such as some donated bricks, while some bags of cement and one drew up building plans without any charge. Some prominent members of the community even helped with discipline of some students, sharing with them the importance of education. Though community provides the collective energy for the school, we should not sideline the importance of families.
Families have the closest contact with their children, so they play crucial role in getting their children ready for schooling and learning. Families need to make sure that their children are ready and well prepared for learning and schooling. Children need to have their breakfast before they face a long day at school. They need to have enough sleep the night before to stay awake in class. Families need to be involved in their learning so they stay motivated to reach their potential, and that they are healthy to attend school regularly. Students will not be able to concentrate when their bellies are growling with hunger, and unable to work out problems and understand concepts with foggy brains due to sleep deficiency. To have all that, families need to prepare these children for learning.
The school needs to work with the families and the community and form strong partnerships among these agencies to enable proper learning by the children. It is important to note also that schooling does not necessarily mean learning. Schooling means attending school but it is important to take note of how much learning takes place within that schooling. Each has their role to play: the school should have high quality teachers, strong leadership, and good learning environment while the community support the school to ensure such facilities are available and the families to make sure their children are in optimum condition to take part in the learning process. It is a relationship, which will ensure learning can take place.
Henderson, A. T. & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. SEDL, Advancing Research, Improving Education, Annual Synthesis 2002.