TIA (This is Africa), we say. And then we sit back and shake our heads in disappointment at the downward spiral our schools, communities, and the country is on. We’re saddened by the poor education children are getting and how there is no bright future for them because of that.
Unfortunately, one cannot rely only on the government to solve the problems we face in our educational institutions locally. And while there is no simple solution, the only lasting one will require the community as a whole to take ownership. Everyone has a role to play: teachers, parents, students, business owners, public officials, people who work in social services, churches, and other community organisations and institutions.
Many times communities are apathetic towards schools and the youth but it’s been proved time and time again that schools and their communities cannot be considered separately. Our world is deemed “connected” but why is it that our communities are so very “unconnected”? Schools are what communities revolve around so for communities to thrive, the schools need to thrive.
In need of a mind shift
There is a mind shift that needs to happen in our communities. Local schools should not only be seen as educational institutions but also as abundant resources which can be used to strengthen the social and economic condition of an entire community. On the other hand, schools shouldn’t undervalue the power of the support of their local communities and need to come up with effective strategies for rediscovering and mobilising the layers of resources at their disposal in their immediate communities.
What’s in it for you?
Now, you may wonder what’s in it for you to place your school at the heart of your community. You may not see the value in neighbourhood schools forming a community, or why the entire community (not only parents) should support their schools. What’s the value of building a strong community for children, adults, and elderly people? No matter where you slot into the community, supporting your local school will benefit you in one way or another:
- First of all, schools have various facilities and spaces that can be used for meetings and conferences or for community events.
- They’re a central location to share information with the whole community.
- School students are usually available and keen to serve as volunteers or interns at local organisations, businesses, or churches.
- Teachers and social workers benefit by finding social support services to help students and families.
- Teachers and school staff can incorporate community history or local current affairs as part of their classroom work.
- School-community relationships enable students to learn more about their own community. These relationships create stronger links with local businesses and organisations during after school time.
- Business owners, residents, and local organisations come to know the students by name. These relationships add to students’ social capital and extend their social networks.
- Schools create an opportunity for residents and local businesses to see the potential in students and their ability to contribute to their community. Very quickly it becomes clear the children that are often labelled as “bad” or “rebellious” are often just misguided.
The future is in the hands of the next generation – there’s no denying that. This means there lies a great responsibility on the shoulders of local residents, businesses, churches, and schools: the educational, social, and economic future of the youth. As the African proverb rings: “It takes a village to raise a child.” This will, however, require an effective use of local resources and networks which, once mobilised and connected, can make any community thrive.
WeBenefit assists schools and parents to save time and money when purchasing school supplies and other products through an innovative online bulk procurement platform. Not only will you find yourself in partnership with a company that will aggressively look at ways for your school to make money. Both parents and schools will enjoy the cost-saving of a bulk buying system geared to work to their advantage. In addition, you can expect the best advice from people who know where you’re coming from – and who are prepared to go the extra mile to ensure they understand and meet your individual requirements.