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The power of the Parent-Teacher Association!

At a primary school in Timor-Leste, parents are becoming more involved in their children’s education through the Parent-Teacher Association.

“As a member of the PTA, I have to help so that my children will have a comfortable classroom,” says Madalena, a mother of four. Two of her children attend a primary school in the Bobonaro district, where ChildFund Australia and AusAID fund a project to promote child-friendly preschools and primary schools. 17 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers and 13 primary schools participate, with more than 4,000 children benefiting.

One of the program’s objectives is to strengthen schools through active PTAs. Parents and teachers are expected to understand their roles and responsibilities and how they can contribute to their child-friendly school.

ChildFund is not new to Madalena; her children all benefit in different ways from projects run by our national office in Timor-Leste and Hamutuk, a local partner organisation.

Her second child, Ricardo is a fifth-grader and her third-born is in second grade. Her daughter also attends an ECD center in the same compound as her son’s school. Ricardo has had an Aussie sponsor since 2007.

Madalena helped cook and provided vegetables and bread for workers who were renovating the school recently. She also was happy to assume the responsibility of supervising quality control whenever the workers asked her to check the alignment of blocks and proper placement of ceilings.

She excitedly anticipated the end result: a comfortable learning space for the schoolchildren. Before, children endured leaking roofs, which disrupted their learning, as well as unsecured doors and windows, which allowed the entry of stray animals into classrooms. Madalena says that before starting classes in the morning, the children had to clean the classrooms and the land around the school, putting their health at risk and reducing learning time.

But, today, with the help of parents, teachers and students, the school is more comfortable and has proper chairs and tables for the children. Teachers now have space to prepare their lesson plans and keep school records in a renovated faculty room. Madalena added that rehabilitated classrooms are not only good for students but for the entire community.

Still, the school has remaining challenges; animals continue to enter the school premises because there is no perimeter fence, and there’s no safe drinking water. Children also are at risk because the school is dangerously close to the community’s main road.

The PTA`s participation continues to be very important in improving the condition of the school, says Madalena, and she hopes more parents will participate as time goes on.

“As a member of the PTA, I have to help so that my children will have a comfortable classroom,” says Madalena, a mother of four (pictured with three of her children)

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