Parent’s capacity and involvement play an integral role in the development of a child. With regards to academic achievement, parent participation in school activities has been proved to boost school success and improvement.

Identifying parents as a critical link in advancing education, the project “Promoting inclusive and relevant early childhood care and education for ethnic minority and disadvantaged children in Vietnam,” funded by the European Union and co-implemented by CISDOMA and Aide et Action in Vietnam in Tam Duong district (Lai Chau province) from 2016 to 2018, has taken the initiative in reinforcing parent involvement, notably via the pilot of the Extended Parent Association (EPA) model, and the use of parent-teaching assistants (PTAs) in in-class activities.

EPA is a unique model for community engagement in education with high possibility for scale-up. It consists of 30 self-help groups (“associations”) combining selected members from current parents’ committee at schools and selected community members who have influential voices, such as village leaders. EPAs hold monthly meetings that encourage dialogues between parents and schools on common school and community issues, communications on parenting skills, and discussion on the project’s supplementary bilingual materials – a set of reference books and videos on gender equality, life skills, disaster preparedness, child rights and Mong culture and custom that uses Mong and Vietnamese as the languages of instruction.

Image: Parents discussing about proper hand washing during an EPA meeting

In addition to participation in EPA, parents are mobilized to serve as teaching assistants in extra-curricular sessions that incorporate the supplementary materials. To enable parents to partake proactively in education activities, the project also holds regular awareness raising events, and provide intensive training courses on various topics ranging from parenting skills and teaching assistance methodologies to coordination, facilitation and resource mobilization skills.

The results have been encouraging. In the span of three years, over 500 EPA meetings were held. Target parents have become increasingly proactive in monitoring, planning, and implementation of school activities, and improved their child care and education practices. In addition, PTAs were used in most of the extra-curricular sessions delivered, which has significantly boosted students’ interest, confidence, and knowledge.

Image: An extra-curricular session delivered with support from a parent-teaching assistant