Third Avenue Resource Centre
Empower parents from immigrant backgrounds to develop their ability to become actively involved in their neighbourhood and in their children’s school.
These few words outline the commitment of Parents in Action for Education, a program implemented in 1999 by Third Avenue Resource Centre. Since its very inception, Parents in Action for Education has helped thousands of parents―and especially women―to take their rightful place in their children’s education and establish a dialogue with public schools that can be seen as too closed off to the outside community. This ordinary program has grown into a true movement.
The idea is simple: First, parents meet in sub-groups to highlight their individual difficulties, develop a common vision of the challenges to overcome, and find solutions. By doing so, they gain the knowledge and confidence they need to take civic action based on their values.
Community coordinators from Parents in Action for Education, who themselves are from immigrant backgrounds, have a good understanding of the realities of participating parents, some of whom are dealing with poverty and exclusion. Their role is to guide parents every step of the way.
Parental involvement has a direct impact on children in terms of school integration and success, which is a primary concern for these parents who are often under-represented within local school administrative structures but who nevertheless highly value their children’s education.
Over the last few months, for instance, a group of about twenty women who live in Saint-Laurent have capitalized on the momentum of Parents in Action for Education to organize two forums for public dialogue. No fewer than 180 participants attended these platforms for reflection.
The Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB) and school representatives attended these forums to listen to the public’s view. This activity has successfully opened the door to direct communication between parents and school authorities.
To keep up the momentum, the program is now complemented by a similar program geared towards youth. Intended in particular for high school students, Imagine Education encourages young people to exercise their rights and be part of a peaceful and safe school environment.