Jacques Ngabonziza is a senior six student of TTC Muhanga Secondary School located in Muhanga District. What worries him is that his parents just pay school fees and leave everything concerning his education to teachers; they never communicate with teachers or even ask him about his school life.
Ngabonziza says sometimes he feels he cannot make it without his parents’ support, thoughts he says affect his performance. And because his parents are not close to him, he has no hope of them befriending his teachers. He has a million questions running in mind, wondering why his parents are not interested in his education progress. Sadly, Ngabonziza is not alone. With the increasing demanding workplace environment, many parents are finding it increasingly hard to create time for their school-going children.
Experts, however, assert that a student’s performance is determined by both parents and teachers. Having a good relationship means they can identify the child’s weakness both at home and at school, which can help give the best assistance. Therefore, they advise that teachers ought to have a healthy relationship with the parents of their students to ensure good performance.
According to Jacqueline Iribagiza, a counsellor and teacher at Martyrs Secondary School Remera, Kigali, when teachers and parents have a good working relationship, there is good communication between the two.
She adds that at home parents have to start from where teachers stopped.
“If teachers communicate effectively with parents they can discuss with teachers ways to help a child shine. For example, if a child needs textbooks to improve on their performance or novels to improve on their expression, a teacher will intervene better without fearing the reaction of the parent,” she says.
Iribagiza also says it is a good feeling when parents know that their children are safe at school since they are updated by the teachers.
“Even in cases when the child wants to communicate with their parents while at school, a teacher can call the parent and they speak directly. Therefore, a teacher is a mediator between parents and their children,” she says.
Jane Kemigisha, a parent, says she always communicates with her child’s class teacher because it enables her know which kind of friends he associates with.
“If they have bad company, the teacher can help separate them. But for parents who do not communicate with teachers it is hard to know their children’s lifestyle and behaviour at school,” she says.
“When my child is ill, and does not attend classes for about a week, I communicate with the class teacher so that she helps him revise with friends concerning the topics he missed when he was away,” Kemigisha narrates.
She also says that teachers should always know parents’ expectations.
“That is to say if a parent expects his child to perform better than the previous term, he should ask teachers to see how to guide the child and this can only work out if there is a good relationship between teachers and parents,” she says.
Kemigisha adds that for any child to succeed, they need a strong team around to guide them.
“If the parents provide some guidance on a daily basis, help the child in doing homework, and pay school dues in time, they should in turn expect instruction to be given by teachers promptly. This cannot work if the two teams are divided,” she says.
For Collins Odhiambo, a parent and consellor, “When there is a poor relationship between teachers and parents, it might result in a negative attitude between a teacher and a child since a student is not sure how the teacher perceives them, and thus lack the confidence to consult teachers, leading to academic failure.”
He adds that as the saying goes, ‘behind every successful student, there is a committed teacher and a supportive parent’, and to him, the more parents are friends with teachers, the more they feel energised to teach their children.
Odhiambo says teachers are naturally motivated to assist a student if the parent has a good relationship geared towards success of the student. This, he says, is because the student is always encouraged to work hard not to disappoint the parents and teachers.