It is apposite to posit that in order to properly build up a child and make a total man/woman out of him/her, there is an absolute need for the cooperation between the home and the school. It is in appreciation of this dictum that the
institution of Parentsc/Teachers Associations from Primary School through Secondary School up to the University levels has been subsisting over a long period of time.
It is equally a truism that in life, there are biological parents, made up of the fathers, mothers and the guardians on the one hand and teachers, who are regarded as loco in parentis of the children in school on the other, who incidentally spend more time with the children than their biological parents.
But the fact that the child spends more time in school than at home does not and should not preclude parents from functioning in their calling as being role models for learning to their children, paying attention to what their children love to do, tuning into how their children learn, practicing what their children learn in school and setting aside good quality time to read/study with them as well connecting what their children learn in school to everyday life.
Other areas of attention that parents cannot afford to ignore are helping their children to take charge of their learning, not over-scheduling the children, minimizing watching of television and (parents) learning new things themselves as it is important for parents to show their children that they too are making efforts to acquire new skills as this may rub off on the children and spur them to follow in their footsteps.
When a child is with the teachers in the boarding school, the teachers invariably take over the child’s welfare, security, safety, health, indeed the general wellbeing of the child as well as his education, thus making the duty of the teachers far much more than the parents’.
Without any iota of doubt, the parent of any child born then and even now has a bounden duty to teach such a child such vocations as farming, fishing, hunting and cattle rearing and whatever other vocations such parents might be engaging in as a way of inculcating discipline and industry in them.
But with the advent of education, it is the responsibility and indeed the duty of the parent to ensure that the child is properly educated. This naturally takes us to the Greek era when parents struggled to send their children to the few schools available then and that trend has continued till today with many good and concerned parents still doing everything humanly possible to send their children to school.
Starting from about 20th Century however, government started taking interest in schools and therefore started to pay school fees for students as a way of encouraging people to go to school while some Welfare states in Europe and America even went a step further by extending the largesse of free tuition to university education.
In Nigeria however, parents took interest in sending their children to school and in some instances, were aided or assisted by Christian missionaries who offered scholarships or paid tuition fees on behalf of some students.
It is instructive to note that the practice in the Welfare states in Europe and America brought about free education when Nigeria became independent in 1960 as exemplified by the government of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in the Western Region.
A master strategist, what Awolowo did in the Western Region was unique in two ways: he did not make Free Education compulsory and because he knew and appreciated the place and import of teachers, he devoted 52% of the Region’s revenue to train teachers and in the provision of infrastructures and teaching materials as a result of which his noble attempt was not only a success to a large extent, but it was equally greatly applauded as a model.
The successes Awolowo achieved in these areas notwithstanding, the fact remains that this ate considerably into other areas of societal need.
But situation was compounded with the military incursion into politics in 1966, as a result of which the statutory financial allocation to education waned to about 7%, thus paving an expressway to the rot and decadence in our education today.
Even then, the Welfare State in Europe rapidly discovered that it was clearly impossible for government to single-handedly shoulder the responsibility of funding education and so, they introduced school fees. For example in the UK today, British citizens now pay 9,000 GBP (about N2.2 million) as tuition fees while non-British nationals (including Nigerians) are made to pay multiples of that amount.
Deriving from that, here in Nigeria, every parent has the clear duty to train his children, even if government or some other Agencies have to render some form of assistance.
We have said it earlier that university education was pioneered by Christian missionaries, particularly the Roman Catholic, and not by government and the trend has continued till today with private universities still being the best because they are better run with state-of-the-art facilities and with better discipline and character moulding.
It is unfortunate that in Nigeria, we started on a wrong note following the Elliot recommendation after which government established and funded the first university (University of Ibadan) in 1948 while the nation’s second generation universities like University of Ife, University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Benin among many others followed suit.
During this period, government did as much as paid tuition fees and hostel accommodation fees as a result of which many people erroneously believed that it is the responsibility of government to shoulder the funding of education. Apart from the belief that government business in nobody’s business, the universities themselves compounded matters by not doing well enough in the areas of research and hostel accommodation for students.
Effects of parents’ involvement in their children’s education:
Research on parental involvement in what their children are doing in school reveal the following:
· Pre-school good parenting provides for security, intellectual stimulation and a good self esteem.
· Modelling of constructive social and educational aspirations and values relating to personal fulfillment and good citizenship rub off on their wards.
· Contacting the child’s teachers to keep abreast of the school’s rules and procedures, the curriculum, homework and assessment and all such related matters instill a sense of commitment in the children.
· Visiting their children’s schools to discuss issues that concern them bring the best out in them.
· Participating in their children’s school events brings parents closer to their children’s teachers to know how such children are faring.
Since parents are not only models and mirror to their children, they must put their home in order to reduce and/or erase the high incidence of single parenting while working class parents should not neglect the welfare and up-bringing of their children even as they pursue their career.
Although it is the duty of parents to provide for their children, protect and defend them, this should be pursed within the ambit of decency and reason. The position of some affluent parents who over-indulge their children and as such abhour ‘hardship’ for them is always counter-productive, often working against the interest of such children.
It should always be borne in mind that what parents do with children at home, particularly during the children’s school years, is much more significant than any other factor open to educational influence.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, LL.D, D.Litt