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Relationship between schools and their communities

In many contexts participation of communities in the operation of schools has helped increase access, retention, and attendance rates of children to school. Education is a ‘social activity in which, in addition to the school, society plays the role of a facilitator and partner’ (Sujatha, 2011: 201). Successful schools understand the importance of establishing good and harmonious relations with the community in which they lie. These relationships exist at two levels, at a formal and legal level, as well as an informal and voluntary one. The former is expressed by the representation of the community through formal organizations such as School Management Committee (SMC), Village Education Committee (VEC), School Development Committee (SDC) and/or Parent and Teachers Associations (PTA). The latter takes the form of voluntary participation, where community members get involved through special activities or events.

In order to enhance the community’s participation in education, it is essential to promote a school environment where community members feel welcomed, respected, trusted, heard, and needed.

References
GPE(Global Partnership for Education). 2017. Empowering the community to improve education in Honduras. Slideshow. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/multimedia/slideshow/empowering-community-improve-education-honduras.

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

Meresman, S. 2014. Parents, Family and Community Participation in inclusive education. New York: UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). Retrieved from: http://www.inclusive-education.org/sites/default/files/uploads/booklets/IE_Webinar_Booklet_13.pdf.

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

Promising policy options

Analyse the community

The school principal must examine the community in which the school lies in order to create good relationships with its members. Communities are composed of different ethnic, religious, and socio-economic groups that may have either mutual or divergent interests. Nevertheless, a community is defined as such because certain characteristics are shared by all its members –such as geographical proximity– which differentiates them from others. Recognizing the diversity within the community and understanding its characteristics, power-balance components, as well as its traditions, must be a primordial step for the school principal before beginning to build the relationship.

Community, religious, political, and ethnic leaders, as well as representatives from disability groups and businesses, among others, who have significant knowledge on the community and the school, should be encouraged by the school principal and the District or Local Education Office to get involved in the school. Not only their skills, knowledge, and capacities should be analysed, but also their willingness to build a solid relationship with the school. Assessing who participated, who did not, and why is of key importance since understanding the reasons why community members are not participating in school will help overcome the barriers. For example, some community members –such as PTA members or teachers– may not participate because they do not feel legitimized, excluded, or poorly informed to do so. For instance, in South Africa: ‘many parents lack the cultural capital to participate in the decision-making process and accept the professionals’ (principals and the teachers) definition of participation in democratic decision-making’ (Grant Lewis and Naidoo, 2006: 423). Creating specific strategies to include and legitimize everyone’s intervention is, therefore, a necessity.

It is also important to analyse any previous form of participation of the community in their school. Examining whether the initiatives were successful or not and why is of key importance for future involvement.  Moreover, the risk of monopolization of partnerships by political and intellectual elites inside the community should be assessed, as well as their relationships with other community members. For instance, through a review of World Bank programmes, the domination of the partnerships between the school and the community by the local elites was highlighted as a major concern (Nielsen, 2007).

Moreover, the school principal should support the school’s personnel and most importantly, the teachers, to be open to the community’s involvement in the school. Good relationships and regular communication between the teachers and the community are fundamental.   

References
Bray, M. 2001. Community Partnerships in Education: Dimensions, Variations and Implications. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001234/123483e.pdf

Education Policy and Practice Department. 2008. ‘Parent, Family, Community Involvement’. In: Education. Policy Brief. Washington D.C.: Education Policy and Practice Department. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf.

Grant Lewis, S.; Naidoo, J. 2006. ‘School governance and the pursuit of democratic participation: lessons from South Africa’. In: International Journal of Educational Development. 26, 415-427. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738059305001148

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

Nhan-O’Reailly, J. 2013. ‘It Takes A Community to Learn!’ Blog in Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/it-takes-community-learn.

Nielsen, H.D. 2007. ‘Empowering communities for improved educational outcomes: some evaluation findings from the World Bank’. In: Prospects, 37(1), 81-93. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11125-007-9018-x

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child Friendly Schools Manual . New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf.

Adopt pertinent policy measures to encourage community’s participation in the school

At the macro-level, the participation of communities in the school is not meant to replace the State’s responsibility. In fact, it requires the government to reinforce its involvement by passing specific legislation, decrees, policies, procedures, and guidelines concerning the different structures that link the school and the community.

At the micro-level, district or local Education Offices should establish clear policies and guidelines that define the responsibilities and functions of bodies composed by community members. Ensure the availability and accessibility of legal texts at the school and community level. As well as give to both, school and community stakeholders, specific training on their new responsibilities and inform them precisely about the existing regulations. As Bray states: ‘Partnerships need nurturing. Skills do not develop overnight, and attitudes may take even longer to adjust’ (2001: 33).

References
Bray, M. 2001. Community Partnerships in Education: Dimensions, Variations and Implications. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001234/123483e.pdf

Education Policy and Practice Department. 2008. ‘Parent, Family, Community Involvement’. In: Education. Policy Brief. Washington D.C.: Education Policy and Practice Department. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf.

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010d. ‘Chapter 5.5: Community Participation’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223e.pdf.

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child Friendly Schools Manual . New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf.

The role of the school head, community leaders and external actors

It is essential to have a school principal with strong leadership skills and interpersonal qualities. Recurrently, it is the school head who triggers the participation of community members in school and maintains a good relationship with them. Therefore, his or her willingness to open the school to the community and involve it in the management process is indispensable. The school head must spend time and effort preparing and encouraging the community’s participation in school. In addition, s/he must share the vision and plans of the school with community members, listen to their different points of view, and invite them to collaborate in school.

Community leaders and external actors (such as NGOs) should stay active in school, as they can act as linking agents between the school and the larger community. They should maintain regular communication with the community in the name of the school.

References
Center for Education Innovations. 2015. Identification and Integration of Out-of-School Children. Accessed 12 March 2018: http://www.educationinnovations.org/program/identification-and-integration-out-school-children.

Education Policy and Practice Department. 2008. ‘Parent, Family, Community Involvement’. In: Education. Policy Brief. Washington D.C.: Education Policy and Practice Department. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf.

Leherr, K.; Boardman, J.; Addae-Boahene, A.; Arkorful, K. 2001. Best practices in community participation in education: impact and sustainability. Ghana: Education Development Center. Retrieved from: https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/sites/default/files/documents/2728.pdf.

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child Friendly Schools Manual . New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf.

Design and implement awareness-raising campaigns

Awareness-raising campaigns should help parents and community members know the reasons for and benefits of their participation in school. They should also be informed about the different involvement opportunities, policies, and programmes, while making sure they understand that participation is inclusive. Multiple communication tools can be used for that purpose. If multiple languages are spoken in the community, translate the information and provide oral messages for illiterate community members. It is also essential to ensure the availability and accessibility of legal texts concerning community’s participation in the school at community- and school-level.

Community involvement in the school should be promoted with the help of other community members and school staff. Make those actors feel responsible for the success of the outreach strategy and motivate them to persuade more community members to participate in school. It is key to maintain an open, strong, transparent, regular and effective communication with community members with the help of School Committee members and the Community Development Officer –in case there is one (his/her task is to create a link between schools, homes, and communities). As stressed by Swift-Morgan, ‘the quality of the school-community partnership is proportional to the degree of communication between the school and its community’ (2006: 356). For instance, ensure the organization of regular and open meetings about the school to share important information such as results, funds, and activities. Involve stakeholders and allow them to express their concerns, ideas, and opinions.

Providing simple and concrete initial projects is essential to get the community members involved, for instance building a wall. Hosting events and inviting parents and community members to volunteer is also another common strategy. For instance, by mentoring students during school open forums, participating in role model events and sport activities, among others (Mahuro and Hungi, 2016).

References
Bray, M. 2001. Community Partnerships in Education: Dimensions, Variations and Implications. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001234/123483e.pdf

Education Policy and Practice Department. 2008. ‘Parent, Family, Community Involvement’. In: Education. Policy Brief. Washington D.C.: Education Policy and Practice Department. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf.

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010d. ‘Chapter 5.5: Community Participation’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223e.pdf.

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

Mahuro, G.M.; Hungi, N. 2016. ‘Parental participation improves student academic achievement: A case of Iganga and Mayuge districts in Uganda’. In: Cogent Education, vol. 3, 1264170. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3257

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

Swift-Morgan. J. 2006. ‘What community participation in schooling means: insights from Southern Ethiopia’. In: Harvard Educational Review, 76(3), 339-368. Retrieved from: http://idd.edc.org/sites/idd.edc.org/files/jsmherarticle.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child Friendly Schools Manual . New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf.

Formal involvement of community members in school

Create inclusive groups by recurring to national legislations, policies, and procedures to involve community members in school. Decide a pertinent structure for their participation, for example, School Management Committee (SMC), Village Education Committee (VEC), School Development Committee (SDC) and/or Parent and Teachers Associations (PTA). Make sure that the members of the bodies are representative of the community served by the school. Fight against the unequal access to participation due to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, disability, political affiliation, and gender by defining inclusive criteria for membership –decide whether members are elected or nominated.

Define clear and mutually accepted roles and responsibilities by defining the roles, functions, responsibilities, and rights of each organization through a written statement. Conceive a clear plan of action for each structure in coordination with the other bodies, school authorities, and teachers. This is essential, and even more, when multiple structures co-exist, as a lack of clarity of assigned roles and overlaps of responsibility may become a source of conflict. Develop a culture of accountability and participation.

The involvement of community members in school is particularly useful to mobilize financial, material, and human resources. Community members can also participate in changing the community’s attitudes toward schooling. School Committee members can visit reluctant parents, explain the benefits of education and convince them to enrol their children to school. They may help the school authorities, as well as local and national authorities, to identify factors contributing to educational problems such as low enrolment, for instance, in Malawi, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania (UNICEF, 2009:232).

Tools such as the Community-based Education Management Information Systems (C-EMIS) can be used by the community members. Indeed, the C-EMIS is a decentralized tool used by community members to collect information about marginalized children in and outside the school system, which acts as a complement to the national EMIS, and that has been piloted in countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan (with the support of Save the Children and UNICEF) (Ahuja, 2005).

Finally, long-term commitment should be enhanced through periodic meetings and regular communication. Regular meetings should be organised while keeping in mind the time so that mothers/women, as well as people who work, can attend. Keeping a record of all meetings, decisions, and the community’s financial and material contributions is key.

Refer to Annex 1, for an example of what constitutes the School Management Committee (SMC), in India. It is a circular from the Directorate of Education, New Delhi.

Annex 1

For an example of what constitutes the School Management Committee (SMC), in India. It is a circular from the Directorate of Education, New Delhi.

It comprises of representation such as: 

  • 50% of women in the committee.
  • Proportional representation of parents/guardians of students from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections.

Source: India. 2013. Directorate of Education. Guidelines for composition of School Management Committee under the RTE Act and its functions.  

References
Afridi, M.; Anderson, S.; Mundy, K. 2014. Parent and Community Involvement in Education: A Rapid Review of the Literature. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Retrieved from: https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/cidec/UserFiles/File/Website/Rapid_Review_-_Parent_Community_June _30_final_2.pdf.

Ahuja, A. 2005. ‘Promoting Community Involvement: the Key to Inclusive Education’. Paper presented at the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress, International Special Education Conference, Inclusion: Celebrating Diversity? Glasgow, Scotland, 1st-4th August 2005. Retrieved from: http://www.isec2005.org/isec/abstracts/papers_a/ahuja_a.shtml

Bray, M. 2001. Community Partnerships in Education: Dimensions, Variations and Implications. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001234/123483e.pdf

Education Policy and Practice Department. 2008. ‘Parent, Family, Community Involvement’. In: Education. Policy Brief. Washington D.C.: Education Policy and Practice Department. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf.

GPE (Global Partnership for Education). 2017. Empowering the community to improve education in Honduras. Slideshow. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/multimedia/slideshow/empowering-community-improve-education-honduras.

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

Uemura, M. 1999. Community Participation in Education: What do we know? Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/265491468743695655/ Community-participation-in-education-what-do-we-know

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child Friendly Schools Manual . New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf.

Conduct continuous M&E of school and community’s partnerships

It is essential to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the school-community partnership. The school head should launch periodically an assessment of the functioning and effectiveness of existing structures. Evaluate for example the number of meetings held, the variety of issues addressed, the level of authority that the formal bodies have and if the objectives have been accomplished. Communities constantly evolve, as well as their needs and demands, and so should the partnerships established between schools and community members.

References
IIEP-UNESCO. 2010d. ‘Chapter 5.5: Community Participation’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223e.pdf.

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child Friendly Schools Manual . New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf

Provide support and regular training

Enhancing the community’s capacities through training is essential to create effective partnerships between the school and the community. The District Education Office, through a pedagogical advisor, or external actors –such as NGOs– could accompany the school and the community in practicing their collaboration and create capacity-building opportunities.

The District Education Office should assess the capabilities of the community and provide training. Community members can be trained to create strong activism campaigns and advocacy in favour of enrolment and the benefits of education in their community. It is also important to train school staff on practical ways to work and communicate effectively with community members and parents, for instance, school committees can find volunteers to introduce teachers and other school staff to the community. Encourage them to appreciate diversity and reduce barriers to the community’s involvement in school.

* For more information consult Policy page Socio-cultural barriers to schooling.

References
Bray, M. 2001. Community Partnerships in Education: Dimensions, Variations and Implications. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001234/123483e.pdf

Education Policy and Practice Department. 2008. ‘Parent, Family, Community Involvement’. In: Education. Policy Brief. Washington D.C.: Education Policy and Practice Department. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf.

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Baldé, D. ; Diakhaté, C. ; Dougnon, D. ; Moustapha, M. ; Odushina, D. 2010a. Schooling and Decentralization: Patterns and policy implications in Francophone West Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001470/147099e.pdf

Lugaz, C.; De Grauwe, A.; Diakhaté, C.; Dongbehounde, J.M.; Issa, I. 2010b. Renforcer le partenariat école-communauté: Bénin, Niger et Sénégal. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001881/188150f.pdf

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child Friendly Schools Manual . New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf.

Other policy options

Participative Decision Making: encourage and allow the community to play a principal role in school governance

The decentralization movement in many countries has led to the transfer of some functions to the school level and therefore, the amplification of schools’ autonomy. In some systems, decentralization has been so profound that the decision-making authority for school operation has been transferred to actors inside the school, such as the headteachers, teachers, parents, community members participating in school and students, this is known as school-based management (SBM). Although SBM has been found to be effective in some contexts such as in El Salvador (EDUCO), it is necessary to research and discuss it further, as well as analyse each particular context, before implementing it.

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

All the different strategies mentioned in the general section of the present Policy page apply for this section. Stakeholders in charge of implementing them must make sure to take gender issues into consideration to effectively promote access and retention for all children. The following policy recommendations could be implemented to complement the aforementioned strategies.

Promising policy options

Include a gender analysis within the community analysis

Gain a clear understanding of existent gender roles, structures, and attitudes related to decision-making at the community level. Tackle them down to ensure an equitable engagement of community and family members within schools. Particularly, ensure women’s active participation (Derbyshire, 2002).

References
Derbyshire, H. 2002. Gender Manual: A Practical Guide for Development Policy Makers and Practitioners. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: https://www.k4health.org/sites/default/files/Gender%20Manual_Practical%20Guide_UK.pdf

Equitable participation within formal structures (SMC, VEC, SDC, PTAs)

To guarantee women’s active engagement within formal structures, the following strategies are recommended:

  • empower women in the community to actively participate in the school and be part of the structures in place;
  • assign them real responsibilities within the structures;
  • support them to embrace leadership roles;
  • make meetings flexible (time and place) to ensure their attendance; and
  • promote men’s positive attitudes towards women’s active participation (especially male community and religious leaders).
References
Derbyshire, H. 2002. Gender Manual: A Practical Guide for Development Policy Makers and Practitioners. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: https://www.k4health.org/sites/default/files/Gender%20Manual_Practical%20Guide_UK.pdf

Mlama, P. 2005. Gender and Education for Rural People. Addis Ababa: Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). Retrieved from:  http://www.adeanet.org/adea/meetings/docs/Addis/FAWE%20paper%20with%20cover.doc.

UNESCO. 2017. Evaluation of UNESCO’s Programme Interventions on Girls’ and Womens’ Education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000258978?posInSet=22&queryId=df97886c-2701-4a75-bfdb-46986e8ebf8e

Provide gender-sensitive training opportunities to community and family members

Training opportunities should tackle gender issues affecting the participation of community members within the schools. For instance, provide special training in leadership skills, confidence building, communication skills, gender-sensitivity, and gender-mainstreaming.

Reference
Derbyshire, H. 2002. Gender Manual: A Practical Guide for Development Policy Makers and Practitioners. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: https://www.k4health.org/sites/default/files/Gender%20Manual_Practical%20Guide_UK.pdf

Mlama, P. 2005. Gender and Education for Rural People. Addis Ababa: Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). Retrieved from:  http://www.adeanet.org/adea/meetings/docs/Addis/FAWE%20paper%20with%20cover.doc.

UNESCO. 2017. Evaluation of UNESCO’s Programme Interventions on Girls’ and Womens’ Education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000258978?posInSet=22&queryId=df97886c-2701-4a75-bfdb-46986e8ebf8e

Gear community and families’ engagement towards building inclusive, gender-responsive schools

Community and families’ active engagement in schools should be geared towards building inclusive, gender-responsive schools (physically, academically, and socially) as well as promoting children’s access and retention. Community and family stakeholders can contribute by:

  • Developing awareness-raising campaigns to highlight the importance of schooling, tackle down socio-cultural beliefs against schooling and discriminatory gender norms which affect children’s education (e.g. Child marriage). For example, in southern sudan, awareness-rising on the importance of girls’ education done by community education committees, increased girls’ enrolment to 96 percent (miller-grandvaux and yoder, 2002, cited by sperling, winthrop and kwauk, 2016).
  • Monitoring attendance.
  • Collecting information on children out-of-school.
  • Supporting the schools and families to develop flexible timetables.
  • Linking what is taught in school with children’s daily lives (practical knowledge).
  • Providing safe transportation to and from school.
  • Ensuring that the school is a safe, welcoming, inclusive, gender-responsive environment (for more information consult policy pages school climate and school-related violence). For example, in Ethiopia, the community’s engagement within schools focused on creating gender-responsive schools (UNESCO, 2017).
  • Contributing to the establishment of monetary and non-monetary incentive programmes to support children’s attendance to school. For instance, providing scholarships, subsidies, school feeding programmes, school supplies and uniforms (for more information about this subject consult Policy pages High direct costs and High opportunity costs).

These strategies should be designed to reach the most affected children within the community –either girls, boys or LGBTIQ children. Performing a previous gender analysis is recommended to ensure that the policy options selected to target the pertinent population.  

References
Ahuja, A. 2005. ‘Promoting Community Involvement: the Key to Inclusive Education’. Paper presented at the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress, International Special Education Conference, Inclusion: Celebrating Diversity? Glasgow, Scotland, 1st-4th August 2005. Retrieved from: http://www.isec2005.org/isec/abstracts/papers_a/ahuja_a.shtml

Derbyshire, H. 2002. Gender Manual: A Practical Guide for Development Policy Makers and Practitioners. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: https://www.k4health.org/sites/default/files/Gender%20Manual_Practical%20Guide_UK.pdf

Mlama, P. 2005. Gender and Education for Rural People. Addis Ababa: Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). Retrieved from:  http://www.adeanet.org/adea/meetings/docs/Addis/FAWE%20paper%20with%20cover.doc.

Sperling, G.B; Winthrop, R.; Kwauk, C. 2016. What works in girl’s education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation 1.pdf

UNESCO. 2017. Evaluation of UNESCO’s Programme Interventions on Girls’ and Womens’ Education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000258978?posInSet=22&queryId=df97886c-2701-4a75-bfdb-46986e8ebf8e

Policies for children with disabilities

Although all of the different strategies mentioned in the general section of the present Policy page apply, stakeholders in charge of implementing them must make sure they are geared towards promoting access and retention for all children, including children with disabilities. The following policy recommendations could be implemented to complement the aforementioned strategies.

Promising policy options

Extend the education community (DPO’s, parents of children with disabilities, etc.)

Government legislation and policy, as well as schools, should consider the following groups as an integral part of the education community (UNESCO, 2009d):

Ensure their representation and active engagement within formal structures (e.g. SMC, VEC, SDC, PTA) and throughout the decision-making process. For example, Malawi’s SCM includes parents of children with disabilities (Grimes, Stevens and Kumar, 2015).

References
European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. 2017. Inclusive education for learners with disabilities. Study for the Peti committee. Brussels: European Union. Retrieved from: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/596807/IPOL_STU(2017)596807_EN.pdf

Grimes, P.; Stevens, M.; Kumar, K. 2015. An examination of the evolution of policies and strategies to improve access to education for children with disabilities, with a focus on inclusive education approaches, the success and challenges of such approaches and implications for the future policy direction. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2015. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000232454?posInSet=5&queryId=68c7ad44-8000-4ed9-a08d-5d06872f3d58

UNESCO. 2009d. Towards inclusive education for children with disabilities: A guideline. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001924/192480e.pdf

Mobilize knowledge and resources

The valuable knowledge and resources of the aforementioned stakeholders should be acknowledged and mobilized by governments and schools. Getting their support to promote the understanding of inclusion within the community and build consensus around inclusive education is essential. Indeed, the involvement of communities and families is a key pillar in the development of positive attitudes towards inclusive education and the promotion of a strategic framework for the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream settings (IIEP-UNESCO, 2019). Research shows that partnerships among families, communities, and schools can improve enrolment, attendance, and learning outcomes of children with disabilities in mainstream schools. For instance, in Lao People’s Democratic Republic consolidated relationships between inclusive schools and their communities contributed to significantly reduce repetition and improve attendance rates of children with disabilities (Howgego, Miles and Myers, 2014).

Advocacy and public awareness of the rights, needs, and capacities of children with disabilities is fundamental. Communities and families can act as levers for inclusive education in contexts where mainstream settings still deny the right of children with disabilities to access general education (UNESCO, 2009d). For example, as a result of the strong advocacy done by a parents’ association, Inclusion Panama, the Panamanian government changed the law in 2003 and introduced a new policy to make all schools inclusive (WHO, 2011). Similar actions have been done in Lesotho, South Africa and Australia (Miles, 2002). To support advocacy campaigns, low-cost documents to share information on how and why children with disabilities should access and participate in school should be conceived. Moreover, community members can support actions to identify children with disabilities out of school and persuade their families to enrol them. For example, in Viet Nam various community stakeholders came together to visit every house in communities –ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 residents– to identify children with disabilities out of school and encourage their families to enrol them (Howgego, Miles and Myers, 2014).

Additional strategies include:

  • build accessible school infrastructure (consult Policy pages School Physical infrastructure and Buildings are not ready);
  • contribute to making curriculum inclusive and accessible (consult Policy page Inadequate curriculum);
  • fundraise to purchase accessible teaching and learning materials and assistive devices (consult Policy pages Availability of teaching aids and Availability and content of textbooks);
  • provide transport for children with disabilities to and from school;
  • provide medical treatment (especially CBR programmes) and help map all existent services for children with disabilities;
  • help in assisting children with specific disabilities, such as mobility impairments;
  • reflect together on how to overcome existing barriers to access and learning, building more inclusive education systems;
  • ensure that the school is a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment (for more information consult Policy pages School climate and School-related violence); and,
  • assist teachers. For instance, parents can share with teachers their knowledge concerning their children’s needs. Conversely, parents can learn from teachers to continuously reinforce their children’s learning at home (UNESCO, 2001).

Moreover, whenever training opportunities for inclusive education are available, community member’s participation should be ensured. They should also be welcomed to get involved in their preparation. For instance, getting the  insight and support from DPOs when organizing and holding this type of trainings is key.

References
Ahuja, A. 2005. ‘Promoting Community Involvement: the Key to Inclusive Education’. Paper presented at the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress, International Special Education Conference, Inclusion: Celebrating Diversity? Glasgow, Scotland, 1st-4th August 2005. Retrieved from: http://www.isec2005.org/isec/abstracts/papers_a/ahuja_a.shtml

Ainscow, M. 2005. ‘Developing inclusive education systems: what are the levers for change?’ In: Journal of Educational Change, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 109-124.

Ainscow, M. 2012. ‘Moving knowledge around: Strategies for fostering equity within educational systems’ In: Journal of Educational Change, Vol. 13, pp. 289-310.

Ainscow, M.; Miles, S. 2008. ‘Making Education for All inclusive: where next?’ In: Prospects, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 15-34.

Cheshire, L. 2019. Inclusive education for persons with disabilities – Are we making progress? Background paper prepared for the International Forum on inclusion and equity in Education – Every learner matters, Cali, Colombia, 11-13 September 2019. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370386?posInSet=11&queryId=8251b10e-fda6-4bf5-a11e-a077d7076fa4

GPE (Global Partnership for Education). 2018. Disability and Inclusive Education: A Stocktake of Education Sector Plans and GPE-Funded Grants. Washington, D.C.: GPE. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/sites/default/files/2018-07-gpe-disability-working-paper.pdf

Hayes, A. M.; Bulat, J. 2017. Disabilities Inclusive Education Systems and Policies Guide for Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3768/rtipress.2017.op.0043.1707

Howgego, C.; Miles, S.; Myers, J. 2014. Inclusive Learning: Children with disabilities and difficulties in learning. Oxford: HEART (Health & Education Advice & Resource Team). Retrieved from: http://www.heart-resources.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Inclusive-Learning-Topic-Guide.pdf?9d29f8=.  

IIEP-UNESCO. 2019. Technical Round Table: Inclusion of children with disabilities in education sector planning in French-speaking Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. [Unpublished document].  

Miles, S. 2002. Family Action for Inclusion in Education. Manchester: EENET (Enabling Education Network). Retrieved from: https://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/family_action.pdf

UNESCO. 2001. Open File on Inclusive Education: Support Materials for Managers and Administrators. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000125237

UNESCO. 2009d. Towards inclusive education for children with disabilities: A guideline. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001924/192480e.pdf

UNESCO. 2017a. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Teachers, Inclusive, Child-Centred Teaching and Pedagogy: Webinar 12 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Parents, Family and Community Participation in Inclusive Education: Webinar 13 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/sites/unicef.org.eca/files/IE_Webinar_Booklet_13.pdf

WHO (World Health Organization). 2010. Education Component. Community-Based Rehabilitation. CBR Guidelines. Geneva: WHO. Retrieved from: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2010/9789241548052_education_eng.pdf?ua=1

WHO (World Health Organization). 2011. ‘Chapter 7 Education’. In: World Report on Disability (pp. 203-232). Malta: WHO. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf.

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

All of the different strategies mentioned in the general section of the present Policy page apply for this section. Stakeholders in charge of implementing them must make sure to take cultural awareness into consideration to effectively promote access and retention for all displaced population children. The following policy recommendations could be implemented to complement the aforementioned strategies.

Promising policy options

Encouraging displaced community members to participate in the school

Engaging displaced families in the school can support the development of relationships between them, the host communities, and schools, thus facilitating the inclusion of displaced populations into mainstream settings. It is important to prepare them to play an ongoing role in the schools. For example, UNICEF Somalia has produced an illustrated book for sharing with parents and community leaders, indicating how they can contribute to the quality of school life. The German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) refugee education programme in Pakistan has recently prepared a manual for community support to schooling, based on the work of its community mobilization unit (UNHCR, n.d.). Community members should understand the reasons for non-enrolment or drop-out of children, notably displaced children, and can help overcome these problems. The involvement of the community in school can also facilitate communication of survival and peace-building messages to adults.

Moreover, since many displaced persons will return to countries and districts where education cannot be adequately supported by the government, this is an area for more research and dissemination of good practice (UNHCR, 2001). The School Education Committee or Parent-Teacher Association can be a grassroot training ground for improved local and national governance (Vargas-Baron and McClure, 1998; WEF, 2000c: 18–23, as cited by UNHCR, 2001).

References
Greece. 2017. Ministry of Education Research and Religious Affairs. Refugee Education Project‐ Scientific Committee in Support of Refugee Children. Athens. Retrieved from: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/125422/refugee-education-project.pdf

Meresman, S. 2014. Parents, Family and Community Participation in inclusive education. New York: UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). Retrieved from: http://www.inclusive-education.org/sites/default/files/uploads/booklets/IE_Webinar_Booklet_13.pdf.

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

UNESCO. 2001. Open File on Inclusive Education: Support Materials for Managers and Administrators. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000125237

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). 2001. Learning for a Future: Refugee Education in Developing Countries. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/4a1d5ba36.pdf

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). n.d. Logistical Support. Introducing GTZ. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/43aa833d2.pdf

Strengthening local educational administration

In post-conflict situations, national- and district-level education authorities may be functioning with new staff and without basic office equipment or transport. However, they may be asked to present strategies to donors and to coordinate the actions of UN agencies, NGOs, and community groups. Training, as well as modest material assistance, should be envisaged in the early stages of reconstruction. Some of the common beneficial strategies are:

Parents can share with teachers their knowledge concerning their children’s needs and promoting cultural awareness. Conversely, parents can learn from teachers to continuously reinforce their children’s learning at home (UNESCO, 2001). 

References
Greece. 2017. Ministry of Education Research and Religious Affairs. Refugee Education Project‐ Scientific Committee in Support of Refugee Children. Athens. Retrieved from: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/125422/refugee-education-project.pdf

Meresman, S. 2014. Parents, Family and Community Participation in inclusive education. New York: UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). Retrieved from: http://www.inclusive-education.org/sites/default/files/uploads/booklets/IE_Webinar_Booklet_13.pdf.

Sujatha, K. 2011a. ‘Module 4: Managing External Relations’. In: Improving school management from successful schools (pp. 192-210). ANTRIEP (Asian Network of Training and Research Institutions in Educational Planning), NUEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002205/220543E.pdf

UNESCO. 2001. Open File on Inclusive Education: Support Materials for Managers and Administrators. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000125237

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). 2001. Learning for a Future: Refugee Education in Developing Countries. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/4a1d5ba36.pdf

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). n.d. Logistical Support. Introducing GTZ. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/43aa833d2.pdfUNESCO. 2001. Open File on Inclusive Education: Support Materials for Managers and Administrators. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000125237

Foster community members’ involvement in training displaced population teachers and youth leaders

Community members have a vital role to play in the wider range of “structured activities” for both displaced children and adolescents. For example, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) project proposal for emergency response in West Timor, had specified one community educator and four community youth leaders per 100 refugee children and adolescents, to lead two daily sessions of structured activities including drawings, group discussions, theatre and music, sports, recreation, and basic educational activities. (For more information on this subject, consult the website:  https://www.rescue.org/).

References
UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). n.d. Logistical Support. Introducing GTZ. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/43aa833d2.pdf

Greece. 2017. Ministry of Education Research and Religious Affairs. Refugee Education Project‐ Scientific Committee in Support of Refugee Children. Athens. Retrieved from: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/125422/refugee-education-project.pdf

UNESCO. UNICEF. 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

Policies for minority populations

All of the different strategies mentioned in the general section of the present Policy page apply for this section. Stakeholders in charge of implementing them must make sure to take cultural awareness into consideration to effectively promote access and retention for all ethnic minority populations. The following policy recommendations could be implemented to complement the aforementioned strategies.

Promising policy options

Foster an inclusive community engagement in the school

Strive for equal and active participation of stakeholders inclusive of all ethnic and caste groups, religions, and gender in community meetings. For instance, through a project carried out with indigenous populations in Mexico, communities described their willingness to be more involved in schools, particularly when it comes to issues related to supervision, teaching, and assessment (IIEP-UNESCO, 2018).

References
Derbyshire, H. 2002. Gender Manual: A Practical Guide for Development Policy Makers and Practitioners. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: http://www.dfid.stir.ac.uk/dfid/gender/DFIDgenmanual.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Learning at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Science, Measurement, and Policy in Low-Income Countries. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265581

India. 2013. Directorate of Education. Guidelines for composition of School Management Committee under the RTE Act and its functions.

Miles, S. 2002. Family Action for Inclusion in Education. Manchester: EENET (Enabling Education Network). Retrieved from: https://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/family_action.pdf

The World Bank. n.d. School Good Governance: Frequently Asked Questions. Nepal. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTSOCIALDEVELOPMENT/Resources/244362-1193949504055/4348035-1352736698664/SCHOOL_GOOD_GOVERNANCE_FAQ.pdf

UNESCO; UNICEF. 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

UNESCO. 2001. Open File on Inclusive Education: Support Materials for Managers and Administrators. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000125237
Updated on 2021-06-16

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