“It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”

(Ancient African proverb)


It is now commonly recognised by the experience of thousands of teachers and the pedagogical literature that individual educational agencies alone are not enough to foster student's well-being and deep learning; it takes a broader network, a community that can offer additional relationships and opportunities for growth, and a safe, healthy, and inclusive learning environment where students can develop and flourish. What students learn, how they learn and how much they learn is not only a matter for the teachers and other people working in the school but is a real priority for the entire surrounding social context (Wright and Saks, 2000).


Since "nothing motivates a child more than when learning is enhanced by schools and families/communities working together in partnership" (M. Fullan, 1997, p. 42), it is necessary not only to convey this message to parents and other community members to make them active members of the learning community that has its focus in the school, but also to be aware that "...these forms of involvement [...] do not happen by chance or even by invitation, but happen through explicit strategic intervention" (ibid. p. 43).


In Epstein's Overlapping Spheres of Influence model (1987;2002), schools, families, and communities are depicted as spheres that share the goal of "caring" for students. These three spheres of influence do not operate independently of each other but are mutually reinforcing or weakening and may positively or negatively influence a student's cognitive and emotional development. Although the three spheres are separate because they have their philosophies, experiences, and practices, it is up to the school to activate the practices to bring the three spheres closer together and to create an overlapping of them through interaction and communication, namely partnerships, among families, schools, and the community.


This process is especially important for disadvantaged students or those from vulnerable groups who:

1) are overrepresented among dropouts;

2) are in educational poverty i.e., with a lack of access to opportunities for growth both in the family and in the broader community and life context;

3) and who come from families who, to a greater extent than others, tend to be less involved in their children's VET programmes