This is a follow-up on last week’s article that appeared in this paper focusing on the quality of education in Rwanda. The question was; whose quality and who is responsible for providing the quality of education that we want?
Before we delve further into this question of quality education, it is imperative to reflect on some of the key ingredients that make or may affect the quality of education.
Such ingredients may include; access to education supported by family and society, quality infrastructure and facilities, quality teachers and capable school leadership, we also need appropriate curriculum and sufficient learning and teaching materials, quality and sufficient assessment at all levels, it would also require basic nutrition and general health of learners and, finally, the learners should have sufficient time to enable them learn among other requirements.
As evidenced from the scope of what makes quality education, it is important to understand that the scope of improving quality of education is so wide, so challenging that it requires a concerted effort from all the stakeholders without pointing fingers (what we have today is some kind of “our quality of education is poor… the teachers and sometimes government are to blame!!)
To put this argument in perspective I will quote a reader’s reaction to my article that came out in this paper last week.
“Dear Stephen, I agree with most of your analysis, but I don’t agree with you that parents are also responsible for the low quality of our education…..Parents are not teachers and it’s wrong to even assume that all parents have the capability or the availability to provide the home schooling service… What doesn’t seem to improve is the attitude of school administrators and the morale (often capacity too) of the teachers.
Whereas I agree with the reader’s view that parents are busy and they are not teachers, I do not agree with him that parents should play a lesser role in learning process of their children.
What is little known is that a home is the first school and parents are the first teachers.
There is a lot of research evidence that shows that a child learns more in the first three years of life than any other time. These formative years are so fundamental in a child’s development and have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.
This reality has big influence on how a person copes with life challenges, including how well they cope in school environment and wide scope of education at all levels.
In fact getting parents involved in the learning process of their children is part of the solution towards the quality of education that we want. With all its benefits, one of the biggest challenges of “free education for all policy” is that it has made parents feel that children’s education is the government affair!
Talk to the head teachers in public schools, they will tell you how parents find it had to contribute as little as Frw2000 where there is need for such, or how parents refuse to buy basic scholastic materials, like books and pens, for their children; they expect the government to provide!
Well the government or donors may provide scholastic materials, but may not be able to provide parental emotional and psychosocial support that a child needs to grow and study well in a school setting.
The parents role in the learning process of their children cuts across and may not depend on the economic status of individuals, but rather deeper understanding that parents have direct role in learning process of their children. The role of parents goes far beyond paying school tuition and providing scholastic materials.
Parents should stop viewing themselves as clients to schools, but rather partners who are majority shareholders in education process of their children.
In short, if parents forsake their actual roles, the consequences are dire; high levels of indiscipline, high levels of school dropouts, cases of teenage pregnancies, learners with low self-esteem, low creativity, and cases of drug abuse in our schools among other challenges.
All these have direct impact on the learning outcomes of individual learners, which, in turn, affects the quality of education. In a nutshell, as someone observed “a child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”
The author is an educationist and publisher