Illiteracy or the lack of formal education doesn’t determine the extent to which parents need to be involved in their children’s education. Working with the community around the school, where most of these children come from, the need for parental investment is an issue that needs work on more than anything else.
Experiencing this in the Padaryanapura Cluster consisting of 10 Government Schools, our conversations with teachers always has one component – What can we do to increase parental engagement in the school? How can we get them to focus more on their children’s education? Vocational Training was the answer!
In September 2018, we conducted the first Parent Teacher Meeting (PTM) in the cluster which was completely driven by teachers. While the idea was to sensitize parents towards teachers and avoid conflicts of a child’s education, teachers also realized that the parents wanted to learn as well.
The lack of parental participation wasn’t just felt by the school alone. Parents wanted in just as much.
This led to conducting Learning Circles with Parents for the first time! An informal space where we placed a great focus on building a solid relationship with the community; our learning circle was open to parents who were highly invested in the cause for the stakes were very high.
When excited moms marched into school soon after for the first Vocational Training session, it was certain that we were working with a forthcoming community indeed. Jewelry making was the vocation they chose because they saw a booming market for it and intended to learn and master the craft. These talented mothers designed and created nearly 50 pairs of earrings during this training session conducted in two schools of the cluster.
What emerged from this exercise was an aim to keep the Vocational Training sessions going in every school of the cluster. Through this, parents can also be encouraged to pool in a part of the income they make for the development of their children’s schools making them self sufficient. Upcoming sessions would include equipping parents with financial literacy.
Along with Parent Teacher Meetings and the Parent Learning Circles, Vocational Training has helped form the triad to improving community engagement in our schools.
By Padmashree Murali, Cluster Transformation Lead, Bangalore
Mantra4Change and Teach For India have partnered to empower schools in 4 cities across India through the Alumni Leadership Incubator (ALI) Program. Mantra4Change is the knowledge and implementation partner in this program and works to support the change leaders working in under-resourced schools.