Education has over the years been highly acknowledged for its vital role in the human society. Many scholars and personalities have demonstrated the worth of education in the various sectors of human society including economics, culture, religion, and politics. Both developed and developing nations have shown a high regard on the worth of education, thus investing numerous societies. The 20th and 21st centuries have been outstanding in the numerous developments and revolutions in education. This has been evident in the sophisticated methodologies and structures set up for facilitating education. Technology on the other hand has also been highly incorporated in the education system thus making it more worthwhile. Despite these developments in education, optimum efficiency in the education system has not been realized thus calling for increased commitment from the different stakeholders. As a result, the role of the community engagement in schools has received significant attention in recent days. This phenomenon has drawn substantial attention concerning its influence in success and efficiency in the education system. This research paper will provide an in-depth analysis and discussion on community engagement in school.
According to Gelsthorpe and West-Burnham (2003), community engagement is the involvement of community members in school planning, decision making, communication, activities, visioning among other school related activities. The concept has been in place for quite some time, whereby various communities have adequately adopted it. Both developed and developing nations have shown an increased adoption of community engagement in school affairs. From another perspective, community engagement is also referred to as community involvement, collaboration or public engagement. All the concepts have the same or similar meaning in that they entail the engagement of the entire community or public in the running of the school (Gelsthorpe and West-Burnham, 2003).
Chadwick (2004) postulated that the concept of community engagement in school emerged following the speculation that children whose communities have engaged in schooling have a richer and diversified educational experience. This is not a new phenomenon, whereby it has been in place since the late 20th century. With reference to the high demand for quality in provision of education, there has been every need to devise the best strategies. In this case, community engagement has been one of the strategies for enhancing success and efficiency in the education system. With this in mind, the concept has gained momentum over the last century and diffused to all corners of the globe. Presently, the concept of community engagement is adopted in nearly all education systems both in developing and developed nations (Chadwick, 2004).
As noted by Hughes-hassell and Wheelock (2001), the scope of community engagement goes beyond the parents and their children. Hughes-hassell and Wheelock (2001) indicated that the business community around a school is also part of the school community and has to be included. Despite that the companies or the business communities living around the school do not have children; they have key interests in the welfare of the school. Their contribution is also vital in the success of the school, thus the need for their involvement. It is worth noting that the administrators of any school have a key role in deciding who to include or exclude from the school affair. This is based on the fact that not all community members have good interests in the school.
The concept of community engagement in school has been influenced by a wide number of factors. To begin with, the issues of industrialization, advancement in technology as well as globalization have led to a high sense on the quality standards in education. Through globalization, parents and other interested parties to a school are able to open their reasoning in the gap in quality standards. This has been closely associated with comparisons on the education systems among various countries, where in this case developing nations have key interests on the education systems of developed countries. As a result, the issue of community engagement has come into place, whereby it seeks to bridge the knowledge in the running of the schools as well as policy making (Gelsthorpe and West-Burnham, 2003).
In relation to the increased expectations and workloads of school administrators in recent days, there is every need to incorporate the community. This is aimed at reducing the workload of the school administrators and thus enhances efficiency. School administrators in recent days are spread thin. This has made them to be inefficient thus leading to low quality education as well as failure of meeting the objectives of education. Based on this scenario, the quality of education has been compromised. With increased demand of education, the school resources and management has been put under high pressure. The issues of management in the school institutions have been a serious problem, with reference to the limited administrators. Most of the human personnel in the school have not been able to deliver services to the optimum. Hughes-hassell and Wheelock (2001) noted that the high demand of education has been the main cause of these problems.
On the other hand, discipline of students as well as school relations have also been a problem. In reference to this phenomenon, the school administrators are required to seek assistance from the community. Gelsthorpe and West-Burnham (2003) noted that the management of school funds as well as policy making has also been a vital problem. This is in relation to the high expectations on better quality education as well as financial efficiency in the running of the school. In light to this phenomenon, there has been a human resource gap in the running of the schools thus calling for community participation.
Many researchers and scholars in the field of education have shown a strong correlation between community engagement and the success of a school. To begin with community engagement has helped in reducing the high workload of school administrators. Over the last 2 to 3 decades, there has been a very high expectation from school administrators and the entire school system. Based on this phenomenon, community engagement helps in reducing the workload of administrators thus enhancing their efficiency. The role of parents in school activities has been of great help in reducing the pressure on the administrators. This helps in enhancement of efficiency thus leading to quality improvement (Gelsthorpe and West-Burnham, 2003).
The burden overlying school administrators is lifted through community involvement. As indicated by Hughes-hassell and Wheelock (2001), community engagement enhances role sharing thus reducing the tasks played by the different personnel. In addition the scenario of administrators being spread in a spread thin is also overcome by community engagement. From this scenario, community learns on how to take the lead thus helping the administrators in undertaking their roles. The energy and time of community to a school is a vital resource to the success of the school. Hughes-hassell and Wheelock (2001) stipulated that the input of community to school can not be taken for granted. By sharing roles, specialization is achieved thus helping in attaining efficiency and increase in output and quality.