Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Jaevion Nelson | Parental involvement is a luxury

Published:Sunday | August 5, 2018 | 12:00 AM

People with money (and those who pretend they do) are too oblivious about the reality faced by many parents who cannot afford to be as involved in their children's life in the way they are.

Everyone is so eager to castigate (poor) parents for their children's poor academic performance rather than the education system, which continues to deny our children their right to education.

Sadly, despite the evidence, we insist on using parental involvement as a scapegoat rather than hold the Government accountable and demanding that they fix the failing education system. Could so many parents really be so careless that more than 70 per cent of children in high school fail to obtain five subjects, including mathematics and English?

Too often, we assume that people are not good parents because they are unable to parent by the manuscript the elites in our society so benevolently bequeathed them. A couple of weeks ago, I shared in this paper that, "We have to rethink this notion of parental involvement in a child's education."

 

Different Circumstances

 

We have to recognise and appreciate that everyone's circumstances are different. Consequently, it prevents some from parenting the way well-to-do Jamaicans who have the time, education, money, and networks do.

Aren't you tired of the banter and ignorance? Aren't you exhausted from listening to, and reading, comments chastising mothers for being 'absent', for not being able to turn up to all the PTA meetings, and not helping with homework?

One wonders when they will realise that parental involvement is a luxury many cannot afford because they spend so much time hustling to keep their families afloat. It's not that they have no interest in their child's education. We have to appreciate that the circumstances are different and that impacts heavily on what one can, and cannot, do.

Many parents don't have the time or knowledge to play a particular role like some parents do. Some parents sadly do not have the education to help. Some can mask it up to the end of primary school by looking for the red 'ticky' from the teacher but it becomes a little more difficult and embarrassing when the child is in high school.

Importantly, low-wage earners, the income bracket many parents are in, don't get much time off to go to PTA meetings. And if they can get the time off, every hour spent away from work is money lost, which, in some cases, might mean an entire day's salary/wage. Quite often, they work long hours, even doing two jobs, to make ends meet and are, therefore, unable to get home before their children fall asleep or have energy to do much when they get home.

I don't deny that parental involvement is hugely is critical, but I find that to be more an excuse to shift the blame from the system to the parents.

We have to begin interrogating the challenges faced by so many parents and find solutions to improve the environment they have to raise their children in. Blaming and shaming parents from poorer communities will not catalyse change at all. We have to find better ways to support these parents.

- Jaevion Nelson is a human rights, social and economic justice advocate. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com or tweet @jaevionn.