How Fellows Are Respecting And Engaging The Community In Teach For Uganda-Supported School Communities in Luweero
Teach For Uganda is championing the race for quality education for all children in low-income communities by placing top university graduates as full-time teaching staff in rural government-aided primary schools for 2 years.
Fellows work with the existing teachers to increase student learning outcomes but also mobilize the community to engage in school activities, fellows also plan and implement initiatives aimed at addressing challenges affecting the children and the communities they serve.
Strong community engagement and respect by fellows are linked to increased student achievement and reduced absenteeism. In addition, community engagement can help ensure that students’ social, emotional, and physical health needs are addressed, while also providing meaningful, real-world learning opportunities as well as creating and establishing powerful relationships between fellows and the community and trust.
How Fellows Are Engaging The Communities:
Fellows are conducting regular home visits in the communities, engaging with parents, guardians, and stakeholders on how they can support the education of their children; making emphasis on sending children to school, and taking interest in the welfare of learners. This directly has an impact on the learner’s academic performance and achievement at school.
As Fellows, we are also making it a point to always invite parents to school so they have a look at the academic progress of their children and forge ways forward if the learner is not up to speed or designing better means of strengthening progress if the learner is moving in a positive way.
Some Fellows have steps to engage communities in income-generating activities. For example, some Fellows are encouraging community members and parents to form Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) using the VSLA methodology (Farming as a business, enterprise selection, budgeting, saving). This improves parental support of school children, community relations, and agricultural productivity for improved livelihoods. So far, parents and community members in Lusenke community have been trained in different income-generating ideas through the support of the sub-county team.
Challenges encountered by fellows while engaging the communities:
The reluctance of some community members and parents to participate actively in school Improvement Program activities organized by both fellows and school administration has affected collective decision-making processes.
Negative attitude by some parents and community members toward engaging with fellows during community/ home visits at times causes low morale among fellows.
Language issues, some fellows are not well conversant with the local language spoken by the parents and community members; this has created communication challenges between fellows and the community members.
Low levels of education among parents and community members have created a challenge of low levels of support given to learners academically. For example, if most parents cannot read and write, then how can they support the learners academically at home? or even interpret academic progress yet this is paramount in creating a concerted effort towards supporting learners.
How to overcome these challenges/suggestions:
Teach For Uganda as an organization going forward should design community education programs targeting young mothers and fathers to provide access to essential services of increasing numeracy, literacy, and life skills as well as challenging gender norms in the implementation areas like community education centers. This will help these parents support their children’s academic progress.
I suggest that fellows should scale up involvement with other stakeholders and development partners around their communities in community engagement processes, and also consult positive individuals and youth leaders on better ways of establishing powerful relationships between fellows, parents, and community members because the business of transforming Uganda’s education to higher levels is for all progressive forces.
Yason Otai (TFU Fellow cohort 3, Luweero)