Says one African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Similar proverbs are found throughout the world. Here in Bangladesh, parents team up with neighborhood parents, with loving relatives, and with wise community leaders to train their children. Children see each neighbor as an aunt or uncle who cares. One Bengali proverb says, “Those who love deeply, discipline well.” We want to love ever more deeply, so that we can train our children well. AOB trains teachers, offers education programs, and produces great books. We offer fresh help. Yet we acknowledge that we can’t do it ourselves.
AOB’s work relies on community engagement. We participate with village leaders in the work. The community accepts a stake in a project’s success, which sets the stage for long-term sustainability. At our formal-education projects, government leaders donate toward school activities and resources. For example, Memorial Christian School’s lovely front gate and our high school’s martyrs’ memorial are gifts from community members. Meanwhile at our non-formal education projects, building owners have offered their community centers or front verandas for community children to have class there. The gifts come from many directions; one nearby church painted a community center’s walls for the owner who had opened his doors for students. We’re in this together.
Far more than financial support, parents give moral support. Children who come late to our Light-of-Learning classes must pay a minimal 10 Taka; the students certainly try to arrive on time, and parents urge them to do so, yet money that has been paid is then used to purchase school room supplies like a wall-clock or floor mats. Parents see a teacher’s consistent, just discipline of their children, and in response the parents support the school’s authority. Children then learn respect and submission to authority. Through their teachers’ example, children also see and value practical service.
Speaking of parents, many parents of our Light-of-Learning students are not literate. So we’ve taken this practical service a step further. We hold orientation and training meetings with parents. We want them to be able to help their children learn well. We show health videos too, because we want them to raise their children in a clean, healthy environment.
The participatory approach to education acknowledges this fact: We all need each other to raise a child.