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Parents and Teachers Work Together to Improve Learning Environment at the Carlos Gomes School in Horizontina

Published 02/07/2019 by Global Communities


Principal Leonice Aurélio Rohden cannot hide how proud she is of the goals accomplished by the parent – teacher association (PTA) of the Carlos Gomes School, one of the 17 community organizations that have been supported by the John Deere Foundation and Global Communities partnership program, Sowing Futures since 2016. Located in the Vila Cascata district of Horizontina RS, a rural area in southeastern Brazil, the PTA is celebrating numerous achievements that have made life at school much better for their students during the last year. “It is a great satisfaction to me, as principal, to talk about all that we accomplished. I am so proud of it. It is wonderful to be able to speak about such positive transformations.”

With lots of work, training, and strong will, the school group achieved a number of milestones for its 64 students. In particular, as a result of a grant from the Municipal Council for Rights of Children and Adolescents, students now have a computer room with access to the internet. The PTA’s other achievements include a totally remodeled library, along with an enlarged school book collection, and a remodeled covered courtyard.

According to Leonice, such transformations were impossible to imagine until very recently as the institution is located in a rural area and cannot count on abundant financial or human resources.

“It seemed almost impossible for me,” confessed the principal. Nevertheless, the seeds of possibility were planted when the PTA began to take part in the Civil Society Institutional Strengthening Activity, managed by Global Communities Brazil through the Sowing Futures Program. Due to the PTA´s dedication to trainings offered through the program, such as Management of Social Projects, they were selected to receive hands-on technical support.

As a result, the PTA completed an Institutional Development Index (IDI) self-assessment that indicated, among other things, a dependency on municipal funding, a reduction in the school’s human resources and a resulting accumulation of functions and responsibilities on the shoulders of the same individuals. The self-assessment also highlighted the need for increased motivation, awareness, definition of functions, and distribution of duties within the school.

The transformations that are occurring are very well received inside the school. Maria Ines Cassol, a teacher who helps the PTA create new projects, says that she is enthusiastic about the recent achievements.
“All the trainings and consultancies were very important for us. Through them, the ideas started to go from generic wishes to outlined projects on paper. Every time that we see one of our projects approved, we have an extra drive to continue. Today, we are proud of our achievements; we love to say that all the rooms have a television, climate control, and access to the internet.”

The good results obtained are also having repercussions outside the school, bringing the school community together and increasing their participation in the school and their children’s education.

Motivated by last year’s success, the PTA at the Carlos Gomes School still has projects in their pipeline. “For us, this year was particularly successful. All that we had dreamed of, we achieved. Some projects are still being implemented. Nevertheless, it is inevitable to start to work towards new dreams”, stated Leonice. The next efforts will go towards replacing of the indoor patio’s roof and constructing a covered walkway to take the students from the school to the main gate.

Roseli Bianchi, Sowing Futures’ volunteer specialist, says that the PTA’s evolution is notable and that the lessons are being shared with the students.

The first phase of the project implementation has already happened – parents and students worked together to paint and prepare the classrooms, which will soon receive new furniture, for the benefit of the 64 students.

All the improvements achieved by PTA are reflected in a higher Index of Institutional Development (IDI)  score. When the PTA first completed the IDI in 2016, it had an initial score of 39/100. At the end of the program in 2018, their IDI grew to 70/100.

The result reinforces Leonice’s perception that they are growing and continuing to achieve their goals. The most significant institutional improvements were in Project Management rating, which increased from 18% to 81%, and Network Management rating, which went from 28% to 71%. For next year, the challenge is to improve their Volunteer Management score, for which the PTA obtained 36% in the final evaluation.