In 2000, PISA (the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment) surveyed educational performance in children from 43 countries around the world.
The survey revealed that even within Germany’s generous welfare state, children from poorer families have very little chance of earning a high school diploma, let alone a university degree. Generally these children have fewer chances of success in life and suffer crucial disadvantages.
The Human Safety Net in Germany has decided to work with local partners to offer parenting courses organized into 20 weekly, 2-hour meetings. The meetings are designed to empower isolated, underprivileged parents to form peer groups in an effort to help them become more responsible mothers and fathers.
The approach employed for the parenting courses is the same all over the country. Weekly 2-hour meetings are organized into a consistent, transparent structure. Parents determine all course content and are active participants in the meetings. Each group includes approximately 8-10 participants, and meetings are offered free of charge. Where appropriate, childcare is provided for the duration of the sessions.
The meetings help parents increase self-efficacy and build strength in their roles as mothers and fathers. They establish networks with other parents, helping reduce social isolation, eliminate neglect and create an environment that can help them build closer bonds with their children.
78% of parents who participated in the program believe they have been able to build a better relationship with their children as a result of the program’s activities.