Engaging with Education

Every year, the 15th of May marks the International Day of Families, a special occasion both in the UK and Tanzania. This week, our schools in Tanzania have been buzzing with celebrations. We have been busy honouring the relationship between our schools and their wider communities, particularly the families of our students.

Especially in education, where its impact is huge, family engagement with a young student’s school career is not just desirable but essential for creating an environment where children can thrive academically, emotionally and socially. 

EdUKaid director, Emmanuel Sanga, sharing details of EdUKaid's work to the community and the Regional Commissioner of Mtwara Canali.

Prof. John Hattie’s 2008 study shows that ‘the effect of parental engagement over a student’s school career is equivalent to adding two or three years to that student’s education.’

Hattie’s research is not unique in advocating for this phenomenon. Globally, top professors of education support those relationships between students and their support systems serving as a lever that enriches the effectiveness of their education.

The list of benefits is not limited to educational prospects; family involvement also significantly boosts a child’s confidence, attendance rate and a number of subsequent positive outcomes that can set a child up for success in and out of the classroom.

During our celebrations, citizens were given the opportunity to discuss nutritional advice based on the measurements of their children.

While this model is widely recognised in Western contexts, does it translate effectively to our work in Tanzania? In Tanzania, this phenomenon has huge upside potential. We can amplify the impact of our efforts by providing family and community members with meaningful roles within the school space.

Since children whose support systems are actively participating in their education are not only more likely to attend school regularly but also demonstrate a higher likelihood of pursuing further education, this engagement becomes a catalyst for breaking out of the cycle of poverty prevalent in rural Tanzania. 

Even so, there are hurdles between us and continuously achieving this extra effective education. In Tanzania, entrenched cultural beliefs surrounding menstruation and disability often bar some of the most vulnerable children from accessing education. Similarly, traditional customs dictate that certain children remain at home to care for family members or contribute to household income, further impeding their school attendance.

By working closely with these families, we can encourage school enrolment, break the poverty cycle and safeguard children from risks like exploitation and early marriage.

One of the main challenges we encounter happens to be among the simplest to overcome. Families do not participate within the school community simply because they do not know how to best apply themselves. We can tackle this roadblock by giving community members meaningful roles to take. When families get hands-on with one of our community-based projects, they feel connected and invested in their child’s school and education. Our schools evolve into centres of pride for their community.

Our Farm to Feed project is a shining example. With 35% of the population facing food insecurity, our school community farm offers a simple, low-cost solution. Led by community members, our community farm not only ensures food security for schools but also generates profits for the community. As participants invest in the school community, they connect with their children's education. This leads to more effective learning experiences for kids, helping break the cycle of poverty and beyond. Moreover, this method helps us connect with local families, understanding their backgrounds and family goals. With this insight, we tailor support for each child's success.

International Day of Families serves as a reminder of the irreplaceable role our school communities, especially the families of our students, play in shaping a child’s school career. Family engagement is not just desirable but essential in education, where its impact is profound, fostering an environment conducive to effective academic, social, and emotional development. While some families may face challenges in finding their place, initiatives like our Food to Farm project demonstrate the transformative power of community involvement, offering meaningful roles within the school community. By nurturing such engagement, we can create a supportive environment where every child has the opportunity to thrive, break the cycle of poverty and build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

Help us continue providing vulnerable children in Tanzania with quality education by setting up your regular donation here.

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