For several communities around the University of Lagos, contact and interaction with the university has been somewhat limited. But a university course directed at encouraging parental and community involvement into the educational environment is helping to change the narrative.
The two unit course titled “Parental Community Collaboration” is taught within the Early Childhood Education degree programme in the Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education at the Akoka main campus of the university.
Students have carried out mostly self-funded projects that ordinarily would be done by grant-based non-governmental organisations. They engage parents who are largely artisans, traders, fishermen, farmers and traders on topical issues that affect their children and families, and the stability of the society.
Various studies have shown the importance of parent’s involvement in their children’s education, care and development. The deficiency of good parenting knowledge and attitude has bad effects on the society at large.
Projects done by the university students range from public sensitisation on menstrual hygiene, breastfeeding, child protection, and drug abuse to the donation of materials to slums, primary healthcare centres and schools.
These interventions are not out of place in Nigeria where UNESCO and the World Bank respectively reported that 20 percent of girls miss school during their menses and 25 percent of women lack privacy in menstrual hygiene management.
This is aside the situation in Lagos that has one of the highest number of out-of-school children in Southern Nigeria and the prevalence of social vices in the state is increasing astronomically.
The university course is teaching students to take action through parents to make the society better. They are divided into groups to execute certain projects in neighbourhoods of the Somolu and Lagos Mainland Local Government Areas. It has in the past two years reached about a thousand people directly.
Mr AbdulRasak Afeez who teaches the course noted such activities were in line with the vision of the university in bringing together the town and the gown.
In his words, “Parental Community Collaboration is a course that exposes the learners to various areas in which parents and people within the community can get involved in the activities that go on in the school, and how the school can also get involved in the communal activities. It brings together the teacher, learners, parents, and the community at large in order to ensure the holistic development of a child.”
He noted that the course component revolves around classroom engagement on who a parent is, parental education and how parents are stakeholders in the society. Its content leads to mark earning community engagements and other means of evaluation.
The young university teacher added that the course “seeks to expose the students to the realities of 21st Century parenting, collaborate with the society and make the student inculcate a sense of societal consciousness”.
“It made me more enlightened about the controversial contemporary issues in our communities and how they can be tackled and resolved,” Mr Ayomide Odofin, a student who took it told EduCeleb.com.
Another student found the element of multifaceted collaboration as the most fascinating element of the course.
“This course has exposed me to some ways by which teachers can get parents involved in the educational activities of their children, most especially at their early years of schooling – early childhood education,” the student Ms Adebisi Adeleke noted.
“One of these is that parents can be invited as a resource person to speak about some topics that pertain to parenting. Parents can actively participate in parent-teacher association; parents can actively participate in school programs, raising of funds, visiting the school regularly among others.”
“It is then important to note that every meaningful elderly individual in the society can function as a parent for every child regardless of whom the biological parent of such child is.”
“Also, I have been able to know, as a prospective teacher and parent, who a parent is, the types of parent we have in the present day communities, who a child is, various characteristics of a child, and needs of a child, among others.”
A student who was in the team that did the menstrual hygiene sensitisation at neighbouring Akoka Junior Secondary School, Christiana Sawacha noted that the course had afforded her some “moment of great responsibility” in community development.
On the significance of the programme that involved over 80 schoolgirls, she said, “We believe by engaging them early, they will be more enlightened on menstrual hygienic management, leading to a healthy lifestyle even to adulthood.”
Another 300 level student, Chiamaka Anunobi explained that the experience exposed her to the gory situation of poor menstrual hygiene children face.
“I also feel like pads should be distributed more often to low income families either by the government or by NGOs to enable this children a better health,” she added.
The students, in July, sought and got the support of a pad production company to distribute sanitary pads to their audience.
A participant at an anti-child abuse sensitisation on the streets of Bariga, Mrs Folashade Olusegun remarked thus, “We believe with this lecture, you have salvaged many futures and lives, because we learned about all forms of abuse. I now know that there are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and child neglect.”
“In terms of the physical and emotional abuse, I have committed to adjusting myself on how I treat my children,” she added.
Commending the organisers of the sensitisation, Ms Caroline Adekunle said the programme made her know that “child abuse can bring about negative effects in their lives”.
What Princess Umana took home from the course is that “parents and community involvement is a cornerstone that is needed in every community”.
“When schools, parents, families, teachers and community work together the students will earn better grades, attend school regularly and truancy will be reduced or completely eradicated.”
Beyond the benefit the course has for communities, students attested to learning time management, team work, communication skills and networking through it.
One of them, Mr Adeleke identified ways it has also improved him as a student.
“It enables me to gather different people from all walks of life and raise proper awareness on the need for parents, teachers, and everyone within the community to work collaboratively for the child’s development so as to have a better future. Hence, this engagement has helped me to improve more on my communication skill. More so, it enables me have a better exposure about the community as a whole. It further gives me the confidence to subsequently gather people and enlighten them on some sensitive issues.”
Regarding what the future portends for students who took the course, Mr Afeez noted their opportunities at addressing abnormality in the society are limitless.
“Students now know that they have to always address societal issues should they fall short of the ideal,” he added.For information on Press Releases, Photos, Promotional Events and Adverts, Please Call or Send a Text to 09052129258, 08124662170 or send an email to: email@example.com