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Gopeesingh calls on parents: Take more active role in children’s education
As 250,000 students in early childhood, primary and secondary schools begin the new school term today, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh says the country is suffering from a crisis in parenting. “Parents, please remember that without your commitment to your children’s education and personal development, our society is in danger of losing even more of our young people to crime and violence,” he said in a statement yesterday.
“We suffer a crisis in parenting at this time and the time has come for you to recommit to your duties and responsibilities to your children.”President of the National Parent/Teacher Association (NPTA) Zena Ramatali, who agreed with the minister, said parents must also advocate for the rights of their children. She said parents must speak out when schools were in disrepair and when there was a lack of resources.
“Parents must also teach their children to be kind to others and therefore not to bully other children because what the learn at home they would practise at school,” Ramatali said. “Parents must also ensure that children do not wilfully damage school property.” She said she was “horrified” by what some children wrote in the toilets and on the walls of schools.
Urging parents to build stronger bonds with their children, Gopeesingh called on parents to talk to their children about their lives, problems, interests and their emotions. A critical part of parenting, Gopeesingh said, was ensuring that children were properly supervised at all times. “Let them know they are subject to strong boundaries and discipline...And above all, let them know that you love and care for them.”
Gopeesingh also appealed to principals and teachers to recommit themselves to their jobs, as teacher absenteeism was still a critical problem to be tackled by the ministry. He said more committed teachers would also create better performing students. “To the principals and teachers, I applaud you for your dedicated work but I must implore you to also recommit to the very noble task you are entrusted with as educators,” the minister said.
“We seek a reduction in teacher absenteeism and better academic performance among our students, especially in their literacy and numeracy skills. “Many children come from dysfunctional backgrounds, making your tasks as teachers more important and more powerful. “Teach our children with inspiration, love, caring and dedication and our country will be a better place for it.”
Ramatali, however, said teachers had a duty to inform parents how their children were performing and give specific areas of improvement. “We do not want to see ‘Good’ or ‘Room for Improvement’ on the report books...We want to see what the specific areas for improvement are,” she said. “Parents must also be made aware what are the teachers actually teaching and it is the duty of the teachers to inform the parents about this.”
She said parents must not only be loving and kind to their children but they must also create an environment as such. “Parents must listen without being judgmental and they must make time for their children,” Ramatali said. “They also need to pray with their children because many children are growing up without knowing God... Parents need to prepare, play and pray with their children.”
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