Community Education can be defined as “Schools and Communities working together, utilizing their common resources to promote learning and citizenship building.”
Community Education promotes the creation of a learning environment that provides learning opportunities for all members of the community. There are “9 basic Principles” that can be implemented by community groups, organizations and/or schools. The natural outcome of following these Principles is citizenship building & community development.
Community Education Principles*
- Self Determination – local people are in the best possible position to determine what they need and want and should be empowered to make decisions that affect them, their families & communities.
- Localization – services, programs, events and other community involvement opportunities that are brought closest to where people live have the greatest potential for high levels of public participation. To the degree possible, such activities should be decentralized to locations of easy public access.
- Self Help – people are best served when they have the capacity to serve themselves. People should be encouraged to assume ever-increasing responsibility for their own well-being, thereby building independence and interdependence rather than dependence.
- Integrated Service Delivery – organizations and agencies that operate for the public good can better utilize their limited resources, meet their own goals and better serve the public through the proactive involvement of their respective constituencies as well as through active, cooperative and collaborative relationships with those other organizations and agencies with related purposes.
- Maximum Use of Resources – the physical, financial and human resources of every community must be interconnected and utilized to the fullest if the diverse needs and interests of communities are to be met.
- Inclusiveness – the segregation of people by virtue of age, income, gender, race, ethnicity, religion or other factors inhibits the full development of the community. Thus, community programs, activities and services should involve the broadest possible cross section of community residents.
- Institutional Responsiveness – public institutions have been created to serve people and they have a responsibility to develop their respective programs and services around the continually changing needs and interests of the people they serve as defined in consultation and collaboration with those they serve.
- Lifelong Learning – people learn from birth to death and both formal and informal learning opportunities should be provided for people throughout their lives in a wide variety of community settings.
- Leadership Development – the identification, development and utilization of the leadership capacities of local citizens is a prerequisite to the full development and empowerment of any community. Thus, all community education efforts should incorporate a leadership development strategy.
* Horyma, Larry for CACE/93
What does Community Education look like in a School?
Schools that follow community education principles and practices in delivery of their educational mandate are called Community Schools, Hub Schools, Health Promoting Schools, Magnet Schools, Integrated Service Delivery Schools, etc. These schools are characterized by the delivery of core elements that ensure the best educational outcomes for students and lifelong learning opportunities for parents and community members.
The 12-core elements of a Community Education Program in a school are as follows:
- Relevant, culturally affirming, community related curriculum
- After school and evening programming (academic, recreational, social)
- Community use of the school (school is the centre of the neighbourhood/community)
- Nutrition resources & healthy lifestyle programming
- Community partnerships
- Interagency collaboration
- Leadership development at all levels
- Parental engagement
- Effective, active School Community Council with representative membership
- Safe, respectful, welcoming environment
- Pro-active prevention and early learning programs
- Designated coordination of community education programming by a qualified practitioner, in partnership with a school based leadership team