3. A community project as a source of learning

It is important that pupils develop ways to reflect upon how different relationships work so that they can make friends and protect themselves from harm.

One way to do this is to help the pupils work with the community to address a particular issue. Activities like these bring pupils together with the community to find common solutions to a community problem. Pupils learn about relationships through working with others, by:

  • sharing information with local experts;
  • learning how groups work together;
  • learning how to accept and fulfil responsibilities;
  • learning how to treat each other properly;
  • bringing together different ideas to help solve a problem.

Planning and organising an activity where the pupils work with other people in the community can be difficult. You need to organise a task that the pupils can realistically contribute to and you need to choose people who are willing to work with children. You also need to plan with them how the interaction will work – it may need to take place over two or three weeks or longer. It is important that everybody involved – adults and children – knows what is expected of them.

Before starting this section, we suggest reading Key Resource: Using the local community/environment as a resource [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Case Study 3: A community environmental campaign

Mrs Jones was talking with her Grade 6 pupils about keeping their surroundings clean. She asked them to think of things in the community that needed cleaning up.

One thing they mentioned was the number of plastic bags in the street. The bags caused problems by blocking water channels. Sometimes, cows and goats would eat them and get sick.

Mrs Jones’s class decided to start a community campaign. They spoke to the local environmental officer and he came to help them plan their campaign in class. They also spoke to the market traders’ committee and they organised the campaign together.

The environmental officer organised a community event and got some sponsorship from a local NGO working on the environment. The market traders told their customers about it. Having discussed the issues with the environmental officer, Mrs Jones organised her pupils to:

  • design a poster campaign;
  • write a drama and a song;
  • organise a debate for the event;
  • organise a clean-up campaign.

The event was a big success. The market traders displayed the posters on their stalls, explaining the issues to their customers.

One Saturday, the whole school picked up bags in the street and out of the water channels. Some of the people in the township joined them. With help from the market traders and the environmental officer, the village was much cleaner now.

Key Activity: Assessing the learning of pupils

First, read Resource 6: Guidelines for planning a community-based activity and Key Resource: Assessing learning. If you are going to organise a community-based activity for your pupils, plan how you will assess what they have gained from the relationship. Carry out the activity with your class.

Afterwards, ask them to discuss with each other and then write about their activities, explaining:

  • what information they used;
  • what activities they did and the skills they developed;
  • how they interacted with the other people involved, and who did what;
  • how they organised their work.

Once they have done this, you should have evidence of the new skills and knowledge they have developed. Encourage them to think about how effective their event was.

Now, ask them what new things they have learned. Ask them to discuss it in groups and then write a list.

Finally, ask them to describe:

  • how they plan to use their new skills in the future;
  • who they would like to work with next.

Did the pupils find this activity stimulating? How do you know this? How could you use this kind of activity again?

Resource 1: A story about self-esteem