Workshops have become a critical component of our students’ education, giving them the chance to develop essential life skills. The program begins in the primary grades with subjects such as nutrition and personal hygiene, and intensifies through the higher grades across a multitude of weightier topics. There are so many things to know: how to navigate education, how to set goals, how to connect degrees to meaningful employment, how to understand our bodies and manage our health, how to be resilient and solve problems; the list goes on. These skills need to be mastered and when they are not taught at home or at school, students can go off into their life without understanding how things work. The tertiary team works hard to incorporate frequent and robust workshops into the educational experience, and since this type of information is not easily accessible in the areas where PLF students live, they are always active participants and really take what they learn to reshape their thinking.
An evolving and important part of this program is providing some sessions to students’ parents – such as Positive Parenting, Money Management, Domestic Violence, and the Rights of Children. Primarily it was the mothers who came, but increasingly we are seeing fathers attend too. Conversations are often quite robust. Most of these parents had very little schooling themselves, and if we were to point to the number one obstacle that students most commonly face, it is the mindset of their parents. We need to build “push” at home and increase the value that parents place on their children’s education. The workshops have been a powerful and organic way to do that, and having them show up for these meetings is an important breakthrough. Family support and encouragement are key to the success of students who want to go far with their education. Helping to shift parental attitudes is one of the most edifying things we can do for those students.