Parental involvement has a strong impact on student achievement

Dear Editor,

The jury is in and has been in for a long time. “Parental effort is consistently associated with higher levels of achievement, and the magnitude of the effect of parental effort is substantial.” This was a finding reported in the journal Science Daily dated May 28, 2008 and titled ‘Parental Involvement Strongly Impacts Student Achievement.’ This finding was based on research from the University of New Hampshire but this kind of finding is common in the many similar studies conducted around the world.

This is why I was stunned with the interpretation given by Dr David Hinds and the Stabroek News cartoonist to my contextualized call to opposition leaders to speak with and counsel their constituents about the importance of family life and parental involvement in the lives of our nation’s children. I made this call after being invited to offer a response to broad-based, non-empirical, political claims made by members of the opposition in a specific article.

I was stunned because I have never been racist and do not practise and/or carry out any sort of prejudicial actions. My service, my actions, my life have been public for a long enough time for people to make their own judgments about me and this is why I am not worried at all that this skewered sentiment will resonate.

Experts have posited that one’s interpretations of another’s words is coloured by one’s own views, ideology and prejudices.

I maintain that the most important thing that can be done in this fight to give our children the best education possible which will manifest itself in better grades, better adults when they grow up, and a better Guyana eventually is parental involvement.

For now, I am Minister of Education of all Guyana. I believe myself to have a duty to all parents, students and teachers all across this country, as far as I can, to impart this very important information about parental involvement. I take this duty seriously.

Wherever I go, I speak to parents in a deliberately set aside time, on the role of parents in the lives of their children, our students. I have done this on numerous TV programmes where I speak to all who would listen/watch. I do this at all PTA meetings that I attend (and I have personally attended more than 130 of these in my tenure, thus far). I am aware that other education officers in the Ministry of Education slot this feature into all PTA meetings they attend. An integral feature of our Maths and English pilot project was to meet all parents of children on the project, because we knew that it mattered not what we did, if the parents were not involved we would not be as successful. Indeed, the Stabroek News has covered many of these activities and may wish to advise its cartoonist that my message, in this regard, is the same at every meeting in every location.

I do believe, however, that the more of us that speak to this issue, the more successful we can be. I also believe, as I said publicly on the radio last Friday, before the publication of the cartoon or Dr Hinds’ letter, that if someone voted for Mrs X that person is more likely to listen to Mrs X than a mere education officer or even me and so it would be extremely useful if Mrs X’s were to seek to impart this information. This simply makes sense to me.

If the opposition members/leaders want to spend their time arguing over what I said, and attributing to me feelings/motives that  I do not have, rather than gathering together people who believe in them and using every opportunity to talk to their constituents about good parenting practices and the benefits thereof, fine. It might be a good time to remind said members/leaders that they too have a duty and a positive role to play in delivering the best education possible to Guyana’s children. This is a good example of how they can be responsible leaders outside of the National Assembly.

Officers at the ministry and I will, in the meanwhile, be talking to all Guyanese parents/guardians we meet whether personally, in groups or virtually about this issue.

We could do with help though, and indeed plead with all political, religious and community leaders and MPs, to do their duty to help develop Guyana and help us out by delivering this very useful message to parents.

 

Yours faithfully,
Priya Manickchand
Minister of Education

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