Study: Few parents show interest in children’s education


UAE-based experts say strong parental engagement improves academic performance.

[Mohammad Al Nuaimi and Maysa Jalbout]
Dubai: Most parents are not adequately involved in their children’s school life, new research suggests, with experts warning of resulting academic and behavioural problems.

A white paper issued by the OECD for Qudwa, the global teacher’s forum taking place in Abu Dhabi next month, notes that few parents go beyond attending scheduled meetings at school.

OECD is the Paris-based intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which administers the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Less than half of the parents interviewed through the latest PISA in 18 countries reported exchanging ideas on their child’s development with teachers, with only a small percentage volunteering to support school activities.

Citing various studies, the OECD paper said parental involvement in a child’s education has shown to have a positive influence on student outcomes.

“Additionally, getting parents involved may be the most productive way to prevent and respond to bullying and other serious behavioural problems at school,” it added.

Maysa Jalbout, CEO of Dubai-based Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, said: “The research shows that parental engagement improves student achievement more than any other factor. It is incumbent upon both parents and schools to find effective ways to engage, and to provide parents with the resources to support their children’s learning”.

She added that parental engagement is “broader than paying for high quality education, hiring tutors or even doing their children’s homework with them. It is about their attitudes and the frame of mind they have towards their children”.

The OECD paper outlines a unified plan to “support parenting skills, set up comprehensive and inclusive communication plans, encourage in-school volunteering, involve families in homework and learning activities, include families in [school’s] decision-making, and collaborate with the community”.

Sabah Rashid, head of primary school at Swiss International Scientific School, Dubai, also suggests referring to parent WhatsApp groups for prompts and reminders, always reading emails from the class teacher, and making time to talk to children every day.

She said: “A child’s school life and the experiences in it make up about eight hours of a child’s day, leaving four to six hours at home. The experiences include personal, social and emotional experiences, in addition to academic experiences. Parents disconnected from their children’s personal, social and emotional lives at school may experience a disconnect from their child, and vice versa.”

Parental engagement will feature among a range of topics to be discussed at Qudwa that takes place at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, on October 7-8.

The Education Affairs Office of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi will host the second edition of Qudwa.

Mohammad Khalifa Al Nuaimi, director, Education Affairs Office, Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, said Qudwa will also explore the philosophical shifts driving the purpose of education, at the heart of which are teachers.

He said: “Teachers have been invited to share their success stories that have had an impact on educational curricula, methods and objectives in their countries. Modern curricula have changed and so have their goals. Most countries no longer focus simply on transferring knowledge to students, but rather on building their characters, developing their skills and exploring their potential. Other countries prioritise the focus on values, morals and a sense of national pride over pushing students to memorise historical events.

“The mission of education now aims to create a good human being, not a good employee. This can only be achieved through teachers who have added great value to their profession and will always be remembered as a model of innovation.”

Set to draw the participation of more than 800 educators from over 65 countries around the world, the 2017 edition of Qudwa, which means role model in Arabic, will tackle the challenges facing the education sector today and celebrate the vital role that teachers play in preparing students for the future.

Common barriers to parental engagement:

  • 36 per cent of parents express an inability to get time off from work.
  • 33 per cent find school meeting times inconvenient.
  • 17 per cent lack knowledge about how to participate in school activities.
  • 42 per cent exchanged ideas on parenting, family support, or the child’s development with their child’s teacher in previous academic year

Source: PISA 2015 Results (Volume III) Students’ Well-Being

Source: Gulf News