Arrest parents of serial offenders

2015-08-26 07:47

It is the norm in any society for the state to ensure that adequate human, material and financial resources are allocated to education. While this responsibility of educating the nation’s youth is often delegated to the state as the primary actor, government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of ensuring success in education. Parents in any community bear an equal duty to make sure that children are in school and that they are performing to the best of their abilities. It is the role of the parent to oversee that homework is done and that their school going child is adequately prepared for any examination.

The family is the basic unit of society and the adequate growth and development of a young person is dependent on the socialisation that takes place at this level. Much of the success attributed to a learner can equally be credited to an active parent constantly advocating for the accomplishment of their child. Poor attendance and under performance of learners can equally be attributed to parents who simply don’t care or are not taking a keen enough interest in their children’s education. Youth need guidance as they embark on the journey of life and when such supervision is not provided questions must then be posed to those who have the responsibility of providing such direction. If parents and communities cannot take ownership of learner performance then efforts at improving the levels and quality of education are destined to fail.

In a recent survey conducted across countries in the region, South Africa ranked 10 out of 15 in reading and 8 out of 15 in mathematics, this despite the fact that we spend more resources on education than any of the 15 countries surveyed. Poor youth in South Africa are performing worse than equally poor youth in other countries in the region. This suggests that the reasons for this underperformance may go beyond poverty itself; there must be other features within South African communities that negatively affect educational achievement.

Studies have shown a positive correlation between good parenting and success in education. A study by Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp in 2002 concluded that a strong positive correlation exists between family involvement and student success regardless of race, ethnicity, class, or parents’ level of education. The more families get involved in improving student learning, the more student learning improves. We need to have more family-school partnerships and more activities organised by parents and communities that encourage learning and improved performance. It is the responsibility of the parent to be an advocate for their young school goer and to motivate them to excel in their studies.

Recently dozens of girls, some as young as 10 years old, were found in Eldorado Park lolly lounges during a raid in the township west of Johannesburg. Where were the parents of these girls? Why were they not prioritising the education of their daughters by taking the time to check if they are in school or not? One can only hope that the teachers took the time to call the parents of these young girls and complain about their absence. Irrespective of the social conditions it is the responsibility of the parents and community at large to take a zero tolerance approach to youth who are not in school. The crippling effects of the Eldorado Park ‘lolly lounges’ was brought to the attention of President Jacob Zuma by a single parent, Dereleen James, who became an advocate for her 17-year-old son struggling drug addiction. In the same way, more parents and communities need to actively ensure that youth have a brighter future.

Another example is the role that parents played in Chatsworth, KwaZulu Natal when two young boys were allegedly raped by older boys at the Tyburn Primary School. A single parent by the name of Leana Moodley stood up against what should not be allowed in any school and took to the streets organising other parents to protest in front of the school gates. This action, led by parents, forced the school to investigate the matter and submit a report to the Department of Education in the province. The matter has subsequently been handed over to the police. All of which was initiated by a concerned parent who realised that the state alone cannot be responsible for identifying and addressing the issues facing young people in schools. These parents should be commended and celebrated in society for caring about the education of their offspring. All parents and communities should play more of an active role in ensuring that youth receive safe, decent, quality and relevant education and that schools are properly equipped and administered to do so.

The state cannot take sole responsibility for the quality education of youth, this charge should be shared equally amongst government, parents and communities at large. Learners who are found to be loitering or absent from school without reason should be reported to their parents and if their parents fail to act they should in turn be arrested for irresponsible and reckless parenting. There can be no excuse for youth who absent without good reason when they are supposed to be in school. Our present and future depends on an educated, skilled and productive population, capable of the creating the socio-economic opportunities we need and addressing the multitude of challenges that we face.

Yershen Pillay

Executive Chairperson of the NYDA

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