The influence of parental education

Reported earlier in this paper, a 2018 survey in Western Province showed that only 9 per cent of illiterate adults have attended literacy course, even as 31 per cent lack essential literacy capabilities.

The study, a joint conduct by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR)-Rwanda, University of Rwanda’s College of Education, and the University of Aberdeen with the support of the Scottish government, sampled 2,391 respondents with over 300 respondents from each district of Western Province.

From the nine per cent who attended a literacy course, only 14 per cent gained skills while 66 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively, still can’t read and write Kinyarwanda, according to the report.

The survey further showed that 93 per cent cannot do simple calculations while 99 per cent cannot send or read a text message on a mobile phone.

Children spend more time outside school than they do inside it. It is here that parents and caregivers can shape their learning environments and opportunities. Net photo.

According to experts, literacy courses are crucial to the education of young people.

They say that in one way or another, if a parent can’t read or write, it might have a negative impact on their children.

Valens Mushinzimana, in charge of discipline at Lycee de Kigali School, says everyone, especially parents, should aspire to be educated and gain knowledge because of the benefits that come with it.

He notes that a literate parent contributes highly to the success of their children as far as studies are concerned.

This, he says, is due to the extended understanding that children acquire from their parents.

Impact on learners

Sylvain Bizirema, a science and chemistry teacher at Ecole des Sciences St Louis de Montfort in Nyanza District, says when parents are literate, it’s easy for them to encourage and help their children, especially when it comes to revision, as well as homework, depending on the level the child is.

Aside from homework, he notes that literate parents can go an extra mile to provide information in particular subjects or courses where needed.

“Such parents can even look into their children’s studies in general. In most cases, these children perform better because they are given more knowledge, including a boost in reading, and so there is no doubt that they will beat the odds,” he says.

Mushinzimana adds that for learners who have completed primary level, in most cases, selecting a good high school is not always easy for them or their parents.

In this case, he says, a parent who is literate can step in and, if not limited by means; help find a suitable school and combination for their children, thus ensuring success.

He further explains that by choosing a good school for their children, parents are confident that their children will emerge well-equipped, but this can only work if parents are knowledgeable on what is good for their children.

Aminadhad Niyonshuti, an English teacher at Appaper Complex School, Kigali, believes that when a parent has basic knowledge in education, it’s easy for them to give suggestions, not just to their kids but also to the school in general, on what and where to improve.

He notes that such parents don’t find it hard to buy the books related to the school curriculum for their children to read at home or school.

Negative impact

Niyonshuti notes that when parents have limited knowledge in education, it’s easy to advise or force their children to drop out of school or even discourage them from continuing with further studies.

He adds that in some cases, such parents go ahead to encourage their children not to attend school, and if this doesn’t work, some might not bother providing scholastic materials needed at school.

“This can happen even with parents being in a position to provide everything for their kids. Since they don’t understand the importance of learning, it’s easy to ignore such responsibilities,” he says.

Diana Nawatti, a counsellor and headteacher at Mother Mary Complex School, Kigali, says there is something called ‘intergenerational illiteracy’, which can affect children as well.

She notes that the issue of illiteracy can cut across generations within a family, clan or community.

She explains that this can become cyclic in such a way that even the third or fourth generation family members suffer the same fate.

“Intergenerational illiteracy mainly comes about because education is given little to no value in the family setup. The children that come along will thus see illiteracy as the norm and not make any effort to learn,” she explains.

She says for this reason, it’s important for completely illiterate parents to strive to get basic literacy, pointing out that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should go to class and start learning subjects or certain courses.

Meanwhile, Bizirema says although schools may have capable and dedicated teachers, schools are by nature isolated from the larger world.

He says children learn from everything they see and do — be it at home, school, or elsewhere.

He urges that because of this parental involvement helps children learn more effectively, and that things could be better if they are literate.

“Educators who are successful at involving parents in their children’s schoolwork can never go wrong when it comes to shaping the lives of their students,” Bizirema he says.

When parents are educated, Bizirema says, it means that they will not only be involved but actively participate in their children’s studies.

Nawatti says that parents who foster learning by providing a literacy-rich environment seem to know intuitively how to encourage reading.

This, she says, helps youngsters broaden their reading culture, and make education enjoyable and fun, thus, better results in the future.

Mental development

Omer Mayobere, a psychologist working with Caring for Impact Ministries, an NGO that ‘promotes life in all its fullness among the youth’, says that when learners are supported in general, it promotes mental, linguistic and emotional development.

He notes that this aids the child to exhibit optimistic and confident social behaviours.

“Healthy parental involvement and intervention in the child’s everyday life lays the foundation for better social and academic skills,” Mayobere says.  

He adds that it will most likely yield better results if parents are literate because it’s easy to understand what is best for the child and work on it.

Mayobere further notes that in order to achieve this, it’s important for parents and teachers to have a common goal in order to facilitate the best educational experience possible for students.

In most cases, he says, conflicts that normally arise between parents, teachers, and children are caused by poor communication —it can even get worse if parents aren’t aware of what is needed or how to go about it.

If this is improved, he says, there will be fewer cases of indiscipline among learners, thus better performance, academically and life in general.

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