| The Role of Parents and Guardians
Based on a speech delivered by yours truly at the Second Graduation Ceremony, and Third Speech & Prize-Giving Day of the Mt. Zion Methodist School, Community 3, Tema.
First, the following three (3) key issues need to be recognised from the theme…
|1.||That, the citizens could be given ‘education’ and still remain ineffective; here, I put education into inverted commas – for that matter.|
|2.||That, Education could be for many purposes and that a worthwhile purpose is to use education to achieve effective citizenship. And…|
|3.||That, parents and guardians have a role to play in order to achieve this.|
Notice also that, the theme did not limit issues to Formal Education. Also, since the theme deals with parents and guardians, the term ‘children’ has been used in the presentation to represent both children and wards under one’s care.
So, what really is Education? What is Effective Citizenship? And, what should parents and guardians be doing, and possibly what should parents and guardians stop doing; in order to ensure that the education that has been administered, and/or being administered, and/or going to be administered, will produce the said effective citizenship?
1. What really is Education?
The English term ‘education’ has been derived from a couple of Latin words which basically mean: to nourish, to train or mould, and more deeply: ‘to lead out’, ‘to draw out’ or ‘to bring out‘ (as in bringing out something that is within).
God has given every person born into this world, immense potential; more than enough for us to be able to deal with all the issues we are confronted with in life, and consequently live comfortably in this world. It is the reason why God committed so much into man’s hands right from the beginning; as we discover in the early parts of the book of Genesis. Now, it is the process of proper and total education (with proper care and nourishment) that will develop, ‘draw out,’ or ‘bring out‘ these innate potentials or inborn abilities to fully benefit the individual, the family, the society, the country, the continent and the world at large. This defines the key objective of Education, so true education, we say, must train the mind, the heart, and the hands (I prefer to say limbs to include both the hands and the feet). And who is to provide this kind of education? Parents and Guardians, Church Leaders, Teachers and Other Educators (including members of the society), Policy makers, and the individual selves.
2. What is Effective Citizenship?
To me, effective citizenship is about being able to (as members of the society) live with each other peacefully and happily, being able to adequately provide the basic necessities of life for our individual selves and our dependents, being able to contribute to providing the needs of society, and those in need, obeying the laws of the land, and above all, being able to make various contributions to solve our developmental problems successfully, and also improve upon existing systems, at the least possible cost.
True, proper or total education should result in effective citizenship; when you compare this description of effective citizenship with what is happening in our society, and the country for several years now, you can tell that largely, we do not have effective citizenship at work. But we are a highly religious country. (In Ghana, Christians alone constitute more than 70% of the population) We go to church a lot, and we pray a lot. We also have a lot of people who have been to school, and are in charge at various levels; some with PhDs, Professors and all that. And yet we are found wanting; especially in our developmental efforts. You will notice thus, that Education and schooling are not the same thing. And that education goes far beyond schooling.
Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Even if Parents and Guardians alone should take up their stakeholder role seriously, things will begin to change for the better to the glory of God. And that brings me to the key submission…
3. What should we (parents & guardians) be doing, in order for education to achieve the said objectives?
Many things; I will mention a number of them; not in any particular order of importance:
|1.||We must live our lives to be good examples to our children; it often does not work when we tell them to do one thing while we ourselves do the opposite. Whether we like it or not, we are their first role models, and we leave a lasting impression on them.|
|2.||We must bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord; (Ephesians 6:4). Especially, we must let them know that “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he/she possesses;” (Luke 12:15), and that they should be content with whatever we are able to provide for them; because they will always meet people who have more possessions than they have/we have, and when what we are able to provide for them happen to be more/better than that of their peers at some time, that should not get into their heads.|
|3.||We must play with our children often, compliment them on even the slightest good, improvement or innovation and encourage them all the time; tell them we love them and show it. That should include making the effort to hug them often.|
|4.||We must reprimand and correct our children sternly but in love, when they stray; let them know why it’s unlike them to misbehave, and immediately after, assure them of our confidence in them and hug them.|
|5.||We must constantly remind our children of the immense potential God has placed in them, why that much potential, and the need for them to help bring that potential out, and actually assist them in whatever way we can to bring that potential out; mindful that, schools cannot do it all alone, that indeed, what schools can do is so little.|
|6.||We must teach our children how to study, and encourage them to read a lot.|
|7.||We must help our children to know how to manage their time and resources (especially money), how to live healthily, and how to get along with other people.|
|8.||We must guide and allow our children to choose occupations and careers that match their personality or make up, talents and interests.|
|9.||We must help our children to develop entrepreneurial skills.|
|10.||We must let them attend and participate in Training Seminars & Workshops on that I have mentioned over the last few minutes, and find relevant books on these issues for them as well. It is obvious that we may not have the expertise in all these areas ourselves. We should not deny them of the opportunity to be groomed by others who have complementary expertise.|
|11.||We must work well to improve our income to be able to pay their fees, and meet their other schooling and total developmental needs.|
|12.||In spite of the economic burden on us as parents and guardians, we must consciously make time and effort to interact with our children, to understand them and to guide them as such.|
|13.||We must also endeavour to interact with our children’s teachers and friends; to understand our children much better from different perspectives and be able to help them appropriately. In the least, we should be at PTA Meetings, and stay throughout and be interested in all deliberations.|
If you are doing any of these, congratulations; keep doing them! And if you are not doing some of them, decide now, and start doing them; because it is part of your responsibilities. God will grant you the grace as you make the effort; Amen!
4. And what should we (parents and guardians) avoid; in order for education to achieve the said objectives?
Again, many things; I will mention a number of them; again, not in any particular order of importance:
|1.||We should never confront our children’s teachers in the presence of our children and even other children. If we have any issues, we should consult with the teachers; especially the headteacher, and we should do it in love; cooperation is key.|
|2.||We should desist from pampering our children to the extent where they become irresponsible.|
|3.||We should avoid comparing our children to each other negatively, and certainly we should never compare our children with other children in a negative light.|
|4.||We should not unduly critisise or talk down on our children in a way that makes them feel worthless.|
|5.||We should not promise them when we know we are not in a position to honour the promise; and where genuinely, we are disadvantaged in our good intentions, we should explain kindly to them and make up for our promise in other ways.|
If you are doing any of these, I beseech you by the mercies of God, please STOP doing them! And if you are not doing them, AVOID ever doing them. Again, God will grant you the grace as you make the effort; in Jesus’s name!
I am not calling on parents and guardians to do something that is beyond them; No! There are numerous examples available to inspire us; I will cite just three of them…
Farida Bedwei, is a Ghanaian software engineer living in Accra, who suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition that started when she was 10 days old; a condition that makes her twist and shake uncontrollably and would ordinarily have ended her up uneducated and a burden on family and society. But the mother chose to make a difference; she educated Farida at home until she was 12 years. Today, Farida runs a software company she co-founded with her former boss; she indeed developed the company’s cloud software platform that is being used by many of the Micro-finance companies in Ghana.
Thomas Edison is recognised as a genius, and the world’s favourite inventor. Surprisingly, he had only 3 months of formal education; he got the rest of his education at home, and much of that was provided by his own mother and through private reading. With that, he went on to found 14 companies, including General Electric, which is still in existence today, and one of the largest companies in the world; our energy sector depends on equipment produced by this giant company. He originated the concept of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories, and implemented it; a crucial development in the modern industrialised world. He has over 1,000 inventions; including motion pictures, storage battery, commercially practical long-lasting incandescent light bulb, and many others.
Susanna Wesley, the mother of John Wesley (the founder of Methodism worldwide) – with the assistance of the husband Samuel Wesley, made time to teach John Wesley and the rest of the children at home; 6 hours a day by Susanna, and the evenings by Samuel. Additionally, Susanna made sure she spent at least 1 hour with each of the children individually, and didn’t count the time she homeschooled her children as a substitute for the individual one-on-one time. They taught each child to read from the Bible by the age of 5. John Wesley is reported to have once said: “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.”
The Wesley parents also taught the children the basics, as well as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Poetry Writing and Music. Particularly, Susanna did not want her children to be “educated ruffians”, so she methodically taught them manners and obedience, and how to use the English language precisely and respectfully. Two of these children, John and Charles ended up founding the Methodist church, and led the evangelical revival in the Church of England in the 18th century. It is recorded that John preached over 42,000 sermons and wrote 233 books. Charles is credited with some 8,000 hymns! Their preaching led to the founding of hospitals, orphanages, schools for the poor, as well as active opposition to slavery.
To conclude, let me state that the role of parents and guardians in making sure that our education produces effective citizenship is absolutely critical, if you consider that, there is a big void in our educational efforts. Indeed, research shows that, globally, what the mainstream educational system teaches is able to harness only 22 percent of people’s true effectiveness and greatness in life. And from all indications, the situation in Ghana could be worse than this. And so we, parents and guardians, have to rightfully rise up to the occasion. Thankfully, if we are willing and obedient, we shall eat the good of the land.
Thank you and God bless you!