Education is a powerful catalyst that shapes a child's personal development and critical thinking abilities. It fosters skill development, unlocks better career opportunities, and ultimately reduces inequalities and paves the way for economic prosperity. In Nepal, the government recognizes the significance of education and takes significant steps to enhance the quality of education in government schools from time to time. With the seventh amendment to the Education Act 2028 in 2002, government schools were converted into community schools aiming to cater to the unique needs of each community with customized education by enhancing its quality with strong local community management and support at its core.

However, this ambitious educational vision has had its own share of challenges. One critical hurdle was that community members did not demonstrate ownership and accountability for their community schools as desired. Teachers at community schools in dZi’s working region echoed a common complaint: "Parents never visit the school!" This unfortunate lack of engagement from parents hindered the progress of educational initiatives.

To address this pressing issue, dZi initiated the Parental Awareness Program. In collaboration with child clubs, dZi designed and implemented a drama to raise parents’ awareness of their roles and responsibilities in the educational process. A total of 16 dramas were performed in the fiscal year 2022-2023 in coordination with 12 child clubs targeting the parents of 41 schools in Khotang district. Notably, this endeavor garnered support not only from the local government but also from the schools themselves, with dZi providing invaluable technical support and assistance in resource management.

 

 

 

The impact of this initiative was nothing short of remarkable. The stage for change was set at Shree Simle Secondary School in Jaleswori, Khotang, where parents attended in large numbers. An array of entertaining activities, including sack races and musical chairs, were thoughtfully organized to make the event engaging for parents. The Principal of Shree Simle Secondary School couldn’t hide his excitement, exclaiming, "This is the first time this many parents have come to school. The parents will feel responsible for taking ownership of the school and work together for its improvement only if we can persuade them to come to the school."

Before this program, many parents believed enrolling their children in a government school would make no discernible difference. Some would only send their children to school when there were no household chores. For others, the primary motivation for schooling was the hope that their child could travel abroad in the future. Numerous seminars, meetings, and discussions with parents were held in the past, but its impact was often fleeting.

However, this initiative has helped reshape parents' perceptions. Parents have started to understand the importance of sending their children to school regularly and exhibit a heightened interest in their child's education, actively seeking updates from the teacher. Witnessing their children's potential in organizing such brilliant events has filled them with pride and a sense of responsibility towards the school.

One parent who watched the drama shared that teachers would complain about her children whenever she came to school, leading her to avoid coming to school altogether. However, the school’s new approach of using fun activities and drama motivated her to re-engage with her children’s education.

Today, the winds of change are blowing through community schools in Khotang. Parents eagerly participate in parents' meetings, visit the school during their children's results, and actively contribute to the school's development. The principal expressed his gratitude, saying, "We are grateful to dZi for organizing such an innovative idea to raise parental awareness and bring parents to the school. Such initiatives will be planned every year."

Parental awareness through drama has significantly shifted parents' attitudes regarding education, their children, and community schools. Moreover, it has also shown teachers and administrators how parents can be turned into allies with few key interventions. As parents actively engage, dZi's vision for the future of education in these communities becomes increasingly promising and radiant.