Opinion

Why Engaging Parents is Vital

Speech by the Minister for Eduaction, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy, at the launch of Pillar 4 of the Education  Reforms Parental Engagement Members of the Diplomatic Corps; representatives of
02 Feb 2016 10:21
Why Engaging Parents is Vital
Minister for Agriculture, Mahendra Reddy

Speech by the Minister for Eduaction, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy, at the launch of Pillar 4 of the Education  Reforms Parental Engagement

Members of the Diplomatic Corps; representatives of civil society and the private sector; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

It is a pleasure for me to be here today to announce another milestone initiative of our government aimed at providing a supportive framework in which parents are motivated to take ownership, and be engaged meaningfully in the quality education of their children and in the wider and effective school operations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you will understand that we are undertaking various reforms in the education sector as part of our vision to ensure a platform for our children to have a quality and meaningful education.

 

The Pillars

In 2015, the reforms implemented were based on three key pillars which are; content review, teacher delivery and infrastructural development. These three pillars focussed on improving the services we provide to the students and teachers and to also develop the environment of learning for students to enjoy.

This new policy on parental engagement aims to ascertain that children are academically progressive, actively engaged in skill-based activities, aspire to further their educational achievements and skills from institutions of higher learning, and contribute positively towards the notion of a smarter Fiji.

 

Pillar 4: Parental Engagement

Today our ministry is launching Pillar 4 of the reforms in the education sector which is parental engagement. This initiative will give schools and parents the opportunity to work in collaboration to enhance the development of positive attitudes in their children towards learning. The ultimate goal is to ascertain that they reach their full potential.

The parental engagement framework is a cutting edge framework developed by our ministry and is the first globally to have clearly defined strategies of parental engagement in advancing holistic education of our children. Fiji takes the lead role in this initiative globally and is leading a new era of collaborative education for the children.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is evident that children nowadays are establishing patterns of behaviour that is affecting their overall performance at school. These children are engaging in risky behaviour for instance: failing to attend school regularly, late arrival to school and classes, truancy, disruptive behaviour in class, bullying, consumption of alcohol/kava/tobacco/drugs, engaging in sexual activities, teenage pregnancies, showing disrespect to parents/teachers/elders and vandalism.

Ladies and gentlemen, according to the 2015 National Substance Abuse and Advisory Council Report, a total of 300 primary schools and 100 secondary schools submitted their evaluation forms and the statistics reveal that a total of 1796 offences were committed by the secondary and primary students.

The 2015 statistics further highlights an alarming rate of absenteeism on a daily basis in our schools respectively. From the 200,000 student population, an average of five per cent are absent on a daily basis and that is a total of 10,000 students being absent on a single day.

Our Government, led by our Prime Minister, Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama, has devoted itself to relieve the financial burden on you parents by providing free education, transport assistance and free textbooks to ensure that your children attend school regularly. This will ensure that they achieve their dreams and aims in life. We have also provided free milk and Weet-Bix for Year One students to stimulate their interest in coming to school daily at an early stage of education and develop to their full capacity.

 

Schools, ministry to work with parents

Ladies and gentlemen, now more than ever, the schools and the Ministry of Education must work in tandem with the parents by establishing a stronger and enduring partnership by enhancing protective factors in the lives of children which will help them avoid getting into risky behaviour which will be detrimental to their educational progress, personal, social and mental health. These protective factors must be inclusive of engaging parents in as many school activities as possible and must prompt better student behaviour, higher academic achievements and improved social skills.

Ladies and Gentlemen, no matter how innovative our schools or how effective our teachers are, Fiji cannot succeed unless our students take responsibility for their own education. That means showing up for classes on time, paying attention in class and staying out of trouble.

The bottom line is that no government policies will make any difference unless we also hold ourselves more accountable as parents. Because government, no matter how wise or efficient, cannot turn off the TV or put away the video games. Teachers, no matter how dedicated or effective they may be, cannot make sure your children leave for school on time and do their homework when they get back at night. These are things only a parent can do. These are things our parents must do.

Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, our late statesman, said and I quote “Education is a 3 – Legged Stool.” Unquote.

These ladies and gentlemen comprise of; The students, MOE through teachers and curriculum, and the third component are you the parents.

 

Parents must take ownership of

children’s education

As parents, you need to take ownership of your child’s education and ensure they get all the attention they need to excel in their academic endeavour.

Parents, it is crucial to spend time with your children. Ensure that from now onwards; spend about half an hour per day talking with your child and win their trust so they can have the confidence to share their problems and issues with you.

We lead busy lives, and I know that it is not easy to find the time to volunteer at your child’s school. However, I strongly encourage you to find or make the time. At the very minimum, you should always attend parent-teacher conferences.

These meetings are your opportunity to learn how your child is performing in the classroom.

Ladies and gentlemen, I encourage you to volunteer in your child’s classroom. You will get an up-close view of what they’re learning and who their friends are. When your kid sees you volunteering at their school, it is a source of pride for them. It shows that you are interested in their education and most importantly, in them. Your presence and the donation of your time lends importance to the place where they spend more than 35 hours of their week.

As parents, we are responsible to not only take an interest in our child’s education, but also assist in extending their education. No curriculum, no matter how thorough it claims to be, can cover every topic to its depth. We as parents must do what is necessary to get our children what they need. If your child needs tutoring or additional help, explore ways to get it.

As parents, we are responsible to make sure that our kids are at school on time and ready for business of learning. Be a good student yourself. Read every piece of paper that the school and your child’s teacher sends home. There is valuable information in there, and it is your parental homework. Model good homework skills to your child, by doing your own.

Be available to answer questions and to look over their homework with them. Know what your child has learnt each day.

Yes, it takes time to be involved. Being a parent is a time consuming job, but it’s the job you signed up for, and ultimately, it’s the one that holds the most reward. Be there…be present…do your job. All of our future depends on it.

Parents, please make time to read through this new framework of strategies on parental engagement and familiarise yourselves with the kind of questions you should be asking your children, the teachers, the administrators of the school so you have a better understanding of how your child aspire to progress further and achieve their dreams and goals in life.

 

Pillar 4 will empower students

Before I launch this important policy, I would like to add that this Pillar 4 on Parental Engagement will prepare and empower our young people to reach their full potential as productive members of our society; it will give them the tools they need to distinguish themselves in the competitive global economy; and it will create the next generation of responsible citizens to continue the progress we have already made as a nation.

I, as your Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts of our beloved Fiji have much pleasure in officially launching the Pillar 4 of the Education Reforms on Parental Engagement. I recommend this to you parents (holding up document) to take ownership of your children’s education.

I encourage you all to read this policy document and the strategic framework which will be available in the Ministry of Education website and in all the schools nationwide.

Vinaka vakalevu – Thank You.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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