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Khomotšo mabelane
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Parents Can Do Better

19 May 2013, 09:07

For just being able to read this article, write, or for turning out the way you did, there’s probably a school teacher out there who deserves your gratitude, a teacher that had a great deal of positive influence on you. For me, that person is my mother.  She checked my school work every day, helped me with what I didn’t get in class and even taught me more to stay ahead of my teachers at school. She made my primary schooling easy for me. But as much as she has done for me, and she has done more than I can mention, I feel she let me down in some way.

I had a History and Geography teacher named Mr. Koma from grade five up to grade seven. Mr. Koma was not an ordinary teacher. He was the kind of teacher that shows up to school every day of the week, grab a chair and go sit under the tree and wait for two o’clock to knock off.  Yes, that kind does exist! He would occasionally call out a student from class to go buy him cigarettes and even an occasional beer. In fact, the only time we saw him in class was during the exams. A typical multiple choice question from his exam would be something like: Who is the president of South Africa? And the options would be Jacob Zuma or Mr. Koma.

The school principal, the other teachers and our parents new about the situation. I know the parents knew about it because we bragged about it tour parents. I would tell my mother how much fun we are having during Mr. Koma’s classes because he doesn’t show up for class. The best my mother did about it was telling me what a great teacher Mr. Koma once was.  But I didn’t need a ‘has been’. I needed him to be at his best in my time. For a ten year old boy, school is not as much about learning as it is about hanging out with your friends. So it’s no surprise that we thought Mr. Koma was the coolest teacher ever. I mean, he doesn’t bother us with teaching and homework, and come exam time, I have a guaranteed 100%. What could be better than that?

The question is: Why did our parents do nothing about this issue? Is it because they didn’t see it as a big deal? Did they not take our education seriously? Did they keep quite because they didn’t want to cause some waves? Were our parents cutting him some slack because he was once a great teacher to them? Or were they just enjoying the guaranteed 100% we were getting? Whatever their reasons were, I believe they should have done better. There’s no better reason to cause waves than when it comes to the education of your kids. Parents should not just be happy that their kids are proceeding to the next grade, but how the kids proceed to the next grade. The things kids learn in their early schooling years set them up for the rest of their education life. Parents must ensure that their kids are not deprived of this early education because it will leave them disadvantaged for the years to come.

As flawed as our education system is (and most of us are quick to point that out), it is unreasonable to put all the blame on the system. Before we go out preaching about how bad our schools are, or how useless our teachers are, we must stop and reflect on our schooling years. Ask yourself the question: Did my parents do enough to ensure I get the best education I could? Parents, ask yourselves:  Am I doing enough when it comes to the education of my kids? The truth is, as convenient as it is to blame the system, we can do better ourselves.

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