This presentation uses mixed-media dramatic presentation to present data from a case study of rural parents’ engagement in education in Bangladesh. The data revealed not only a lack of engagement but also a major communicative gap between rural parents and teachers in local schools. Illiteracy and poverty, differences in social status and power and the impact of prevalent social discourses were identified as key, and apparently insuperable, problems. However, the study also found a rural head teacher who broke through perceived barriers by visiting parents in their homes and in market tea stalls and so created a basis for communication and engagement. The use of hand puppets, overhead projections, and recordings allows the data to be understood as a social drama and so highlights the interplay of experiences of frustration, inadequacy, courage, and hope that are the human aspects of what is sometimes seen by policy as a statistical problem.
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Mahammad Hasnat is Bangladeshi and a recent doctoral graduate from the University of Canterbury, and a researcher of parental engagement in rural schools in a developing country.
Janinka Greenwood is Professor of education at the University of Canterbury and a playwright and community theatre practitioner.