Parents and teachers working together to improve learning in Rwanda
By Anjan Sundaram
Gasanze, Rwanda, October 2011 - Newly created Parent-Teacher Associations at certain schools in Rwanda are beginning to show results in terms of school management and pupil learning outcomes.
This certainly seems to be the case at Gasanze Child Friendly School.
This school launched its Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) in January 2011. Parents say the association has helped them to better understand their role in their children’s education as well as improve their communication with the School Director and teachers on effective ways to help children learn.
“Before the creation of the PTA at Gasanze, the only time I knew how my child was really doing was through the mid-year or annual report card,” explains Claudine Uwitonze, a parent of a yond child at Gasanze.
“The PTA has changed that. Now I know and meet regularly with my child’s teacher. I mean I was actually told by the teacher that Bella loves English, but she needs help in Mathematics. I would have never known that before,” she smiles.
And thanks to the encouragement of Gasanze teachers, Claudine is now an active parent. She helps Bella with her homework and checks regularly to make sure she does not fall behind, particularly in mathematics.
This came as quite of a shock to Bella, who was not used to having her mother “act as a teacher at home,” but again, thanks to the PTA, teachers and parents reinforced each other’s messages and Bella became more receptive to her mother’s questions about school.
“This is important,” said Pascal Nsekanabo, the representative of teachers at Gasanze School, “because for the role of our PTA for the time being is to bring parents and teachers together with a common understanding on teaching and learning.”
“For instance for the first time this year, our school will offer classes for the 6th year of primary school, which means our students will have to sit for the national exams. This has been a focus of discussions at the PTA, with parents and teachers brainstorming about ways to make sure that the new programme is a success,” he explained.
“I would love to see more parents become members of the PTA,” confesses Claudine. “I would like to see our PTA grow.”
UNICEF hopes that PTAs will eventually bring parents and teachers together to look at more than just teaching and learning, but also how schools are managed, teachers selected and monitored and quality education outcomes ensured.
“We support the Government of Rwanda to strengthen the quality of education,” explains Iris Uyttersprot, UNICEF’s Chief of Education. “and promote a strong involvement of parents to help the school welcome all children within their community, and to help ensure all children learn through contributing to a conducive learning environment both at school and at home.''