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Submitted by Offei Okoffo Manteaw on
This is an interesting topic and interestingly, it has come just at the back of a recent publication in a local newspaper in Ghana which suggests that emerging evidence is pointing to a situation where free basic education, as recently started in Ghana, is disengaging parents from their children's education. I guess the key message out of that article is because parents have less to worry about in terms of fees and costs; they have somehow become less concerned or involved in the education of their children. In a sense, let the government do it all. If this story is true, then it has tremendous significance for policy processes as they relate to free education and the roles of parents. And more to the focus of this topic, it also asks the question of how parents could be educated to know and understand what their responsibilities are in their children's education. I believe the focus should be on quality schools and quality education to create children--future parents--who can become better and more engaged parents. The question then becomes until we create that new generation of parents what do we do with parents who are less engaged with the education of the children? It is a fact that the more educated a parent is the easier it becomes for him/her to know and understand their responsibilities in their children's education beyond financial expenses. Using my personal story as an example, I am very convinced that parents should not necessarily be literates to see the essence of playing roles in their kids’ education. My mother, is an illiterate--never went to school, but she is incredibly knowledgeable and educated. When I was a child and a very naughty boy then, my mother used rewards and punishments to challenge me to achieve. She supervised my handwriting exercises and my home work and always let me know that she could report me to my teachers if I did not do things right. All she did was to ask if I had homework and then she ensures that I do it. For her maybe, she was blind to have seen whether I was doing the right thing or not, but i guess her main concern was me spending time alone with a book before me. She taught me how to write even though she could not read or write. Again, for her, she judged my writing ability with how neatly I arranged my letters and numbers on a paper. That was important to her and looking back now I see how philosophical she was. We are six in a family, with Dads who are literate and educated but did not care a lot. Today, all of my mum's children have post graduate degrees or some kind of professional degree; however, our illiterate mum engages us in deep intellectual conversations, particularly as they relate to politics and economics in Ghana. I have to be conscious in having a conversation with my mum on any topic. Thus, the point I am making is, yes, we need to explore ways of improving parenting through education. While the most convenient way is to recreate the next generation of parents, it is also important that we explore ways of educating parents who do not seem to understand education thinking and practice. Yes, teachers may be complaining about poor parenting and how difficult that is for them to really do their job in the schools. The fact is, schools and their teachers, in some instances, could also be seen as part of the problem. They do not reach out to parents and do not engage the. I have in some my writings suggested a School-community Learning-Exchange (SCOLE)--an avenue that I believe could address some of these challenges.