Days of training solves the school's age problem

I am the chairman of the Parents, Teachers and Students Association (PTSA) at Wibur Primary and Secondary School in Gambella Town Administration. For years we have had a problem with lack of fence in the school compound and the intruders have been coming into the school compound to commit crimes and it is difficult for teachers to control the students during the reporting times even when the gate is locked as they are coming from different directions. Additionally, the school has been struggling with floods during the raining seasons for many years and it affects the operations and performance of the school since the school sits on a flat land. Furthermore, this school is one of the highly populated schools in Gambella Town but with limited resources. In the classrooms, 4 students sit on a single desk contrary to the requirement of 2 students per desk. Lack of enough desks makes it difficult for students to write and complete their assignments on time and it affects their performances. And even though the community was concerned with these problems in the school, there was no system of engaging the community to help alleviate the problems due to weak PTA in the school. There was poor engagement of the school with the community and parents could not even attend to meetings called by the school and I was left alone as the chairman to deal with the principal and we have not been fruitful in solving any of these problems.

Tiruzer Ethiopia for Africa (TEA) with the support of Education Development Trust and funds from FCDO held a series of meetings with our school leaders and Woreda Education Offices (WEOs) to discuss on the status of PTSAs in schools. From the discussions it was clear that the PTAs are not functional at all in all the schools. As an immediate action point, it was agreed that all the schools to select new PTSA members with close supervision of the WEOs. In Wibur School, a PTSA of 6 members was established comprising of 3 parents, 2 teachers and 1 student and I retained the chairmanship. TEA thereafter conducted several trainings for us and the members Kebele Education and Training Board (KETB) to build our capacities on how we can engage the communities to support the school and interface meeting held with us to increase our awareness on our roles and responsibilities and how we can participate in improving the quality of education in our school.

Thanks to those trainings we have been very successful in organizing meetings with the parents in school and we have mobilized them to contribute funds and by the end of the first semester 2014 E.C. we have received ETB 95,875. These funds will be used to fence the school, construct a drainage system and purchase 100 combined desks for students in classrooms.
The mobilization is going on well andwill continue in the second semester and we are hoping to raise more funds to support the school in other areas. The PTSAs have placed themselves strategically in the community, some members are based in Kebele Office and others in school while executing their daily activities of the school, and this will help in gaining the support of the community leaders whenever needed.

For sure community is key in attaining quality education and schools should organize themselves especially through PTSAs before approaching the communities for support. Involving the community in the design and planning of School Improvement Programmes(SIP) will ensure that the community is engaged with the school from the beginning of the plan and will support the schools when there is need in implementing the plan.

The above 2 photos shows meetings held with the school directors and education officials to discuss on the status of PTSAs in schools

The 4 photos shows the PTSAs, KETBs and school management members who received the trainings in Gambella Town to build their capacity in community engagement