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Involving parents in children’s education

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AS the National Reading Programme, a brain child of the Ministry of Education, attempts are being made to reach out to parents for them to support the ministry’s efforts.

Senior Inspector of Schools in Mangochi, white  Jali, says there is need for schools to deliberately allow parents to have a better appreciation of what children learn and the environment in which they [children and teacher]s learn and operate, respectively.

“A practice in schools can be adopted where parents, with prior communication, sit in a class to see what is going on and get an appraisal of their children’s work and progress.  This practice, in which schools allow groups of parents to sit in class while the teacher and children are engaged in the teachinglearning process, can open up opportunities for effective teaching and learning,” Jali says.

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Mangochi, District Education Manager Joe Magombo agrees. “Through this practice parents can easily help their children with homework when they get back home.”

He further points out that allowing parents to sit in the classroom and watch the teacher deliver lessons and even help children with their tasks leads to greater benefits for children.

“Associalising institutions, schools have been challenged to open themselves up to the public. Parents should not just be called to a school when there is a meeting, Most parents are always happy and willing to assist teachers carry out several duties if the school asks them to do so.”

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Nevertheless, Magombo fears that allowing parents to sit through a lesson in class may breed tension between parents and teachers. ”Some parents may go into the classroom as Standards Measurement Officers and miss their role, only to come out with a damaging report about the teacher.

They may even fail to recognise the fact that the teacher is the one in charge and qualified enough to decide the strategies to use to deliver the lesson.” The Coordinating Primary Education Advisor for Mangochi Solomon Bonde adds that parents will have followed the lesson and better assist their children at home.

“Having sat through a lesson, parents will have understood the concept and will therefore reinforce understanding of the concept with their children later at home.” In addition, Bonde says this practice can open up parents’ contribution to resource mobilisation for the school after observing that the teacher has a shortfall in resources used in that particular lesson.

However, he argues that in some schools, it is unthinkable to have an outsider sit through a teachers lesson. He says in a situation where a teacher is lacking confidence, is ill prepared for lessons or demotivated, there is always resistance to such a practice.

District Community Development Officer for Mangochi, Anthony Zimba while addressing members of the district Council in Mangochi on the inception of NRP in the district, said, without parents’ engagement, chances of children having access and sustaining commitment to education are considerably weakened.

Often children who have no one to tell them to go to school end up dropping out of school. “Parental responsibilities to ensure children have access to education are many. Some of these include the provision of an environment in the early years that ensures the child is prepared to start school. So when parents queue up outside schools to register children for entry into Standard One, they are satisfying their duty,” for lessons at school.”

In the charter for the realisation of children’s right to education and rights within education, published by the United Nations Children’s Fund and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 2007, parents and community members are alluded to as being instrumental in ensuring that children’s rights to access education are guaranteed.

Whatever forms a school can adopt to promote interaction between parents and its staff, it is undeniable that involvement of parents in the activities of a school promotes the school’s practices and management.

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