Lessons for parents...
text: Elina Alkova , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
A conference of parents has taken place in Almaty. The reason for daddies and moms to meet on the city level lied in statements made by educational institutions, which more and more often were reminding the parents that they were unauthorised persons in schools.
The industrious parents decided to clear up what exactly was their place not only under the sun, but also near their children, not only in the school community, but in the society in general.
So, so the parents resolute and ready for a big and serious dialogue with the education system, invited a lot of NGO, operation in the education system and, as usual, education bureaucrats as well.
However, the latter quite rudely ignored the invitation. There wasn't a single employee of the national people's education department or the city education department at the conference. The parents had to be in each other's company, which proved to be not bad at all.
The parents realised quite soon: they only need to unite, co-operate, co-ordinate, in a word become a movement that would possess strength, weight, and authority in order to participate in the educational process.
To achieve it, all those who gathered at the conference had to feel as a single whole - a social movement actually. And a movement is not just a parents' meeting that gathers regularly for sitting, shouting and going away.
A movement must know its precise goals, direction and ways for achieving its goals. Therefore one of the first issues under discussion was the following: do parents actually need such movement, are they ready to become a single whole called - Parents? By majority of voices the audience recognised that they had long time ago become a single force and were ready to act together. One objection. How to it in a skilful manner? - so the mothers asked (sole women came to the conference, as to other school events). The conference organisers proposed acting through NGO, of which there are quite a few in Kazakhstan, thanks God. Why through NGO? Because in the corrupted and strictly vertical education system it is only independent and not accountable to anyone non-governmental organisations that can undertake a mission of resolving problems.
Moreover, NGO workers will not be afraid of education bureaucrats. The practice shows that a school director often cannot act openly, being afraid of losing his/her job, and teachers cannot help children and parents either - they are the most underprivileged people in schools. Only independent parents and non-governmental organisations remain.
True, a counter-question was asked at the conference: just how strong these organisations are, nobody can exert pressure on them, but who will listen to them? It appears that in due course, when NGO started to declare that the had influence in the society, in the education system in particular, the education minister Mr. Kulekeyev made a depreciative statement that there were too many of them for paying attention to them, like, would it not be too much honour for them? However, literally the next day the president Nursultan Nazarbayev in his speech observed that the state was going to co-operate with NGO. And everything changed. The minister immediately changed his attitude to those public organisations, expressing his eagerness to co-operate. So, parents do have trustworthy partners in their important work: namely NGO that today are lobbying solution of problematic issues in the education, trying to promote them through the ministry.
Representatives of these NGO, participating in the conference in their turn called parents to be more active and show more initiative. They quoted examples of other Kazakhstani cities, where the parental social activities are buoyant - in particular Pavlodar, Karaganda, Kostanai. There parents became the fifth power in the country and they resolve issues related with the education of their children by themselves. As for Almaty the activities here are so low that the past conference looks like a bomb explosion against the usual parental passivity and listlessness.
The mechanism of work of the public organisations is well-known, it exists for a long time, but Almaty parents need knowledge: how to work and with whom?
Words of NGO representatives, who spoke about foreign experience of the parents movement, were quite inspiring. For instance, in the USA and Germany only parents manage the education process. Here there are but humble efforts to start it. It is still very far from full-fledged management.
In relation with this the conference discussed also following issues: what are parents lacking to become an active force in the educational process? What information do parents need about school, do they always get it? Do parents need general studies and how they should e organised? How do parents see interaction between family and school? Today if teachers write in a pupil's mark book that he failed to prepare a home task, parents write their own complaints about the behaviour of their kid at home! Each of the adult sides thinks that it has informed the other one about their own problems, but what does it change? Nothing! Unfortunately, today family and school interact in this manner: on the level of complaints. There is no co-operation or mutual understanding. Nobody really cares about children: why he doesn't prepare home tasks, why he fails to do his home duties… nobody really cares. A great triangle: a pupil-a teacher-a parent - has been long broken, adults don't have connection with children.
The conference participants decided that at least some adults have to recover the broken links. It doesn't make sense to expect that teachers will start to do it. Whose children they are? Therefore the parents to begin with have prepared a number of wishes to be sent to all city schools and to the Ministry of EducationThey worked on those propositions for a long time, trying to prove that they are not just unauthorised persons in schools, but very interested people, who know more about their children than teachers do and are ready to help children with their knowledge and opportunities to become respectable people in the society.
So, the parents believe that school classes must be formed with consideration of the pre-school education of children, because it significantly influences the character of load in the education process. Special attention should be paid to left hand children - normal conditions of education should be created for them. The normative number of pupils in a class should be changed to 20. Hours for additional lessons with lagging pupils should be included into the school timetable. Now teachers work with them, but only for additional pay. A psychologist should work in each school, who must guard interests of the child and promote an establishment of comforting relations between all participants of the education process. A systematic approach to education should be used more actively. At the present moment school graduates do not have a logical and harmonious world outlook.
To pay more attention to the informational culture of pupils, their co-education skills. To give a right to children occupied in different sport sections or other circles to be relieved from lessons on those subjects. To give a right to a pupil for one "unloading" day to rest from school (under parents responsibility), especially at the initial phase of the education. To lower the quantity and quality of home tasks to such an extent that a child could cope with them without the help from his parents. To use antistress technologies during the attestations. The best thing would be if those will be tasks oriented at a creation of projects or at a research work. To abstain from direct learning by heart of information contained in textbooks and mathematic quizzes, whose performance depends not so much on the level of a child's knowledge as on his psychological peculiarities. Slow children don't manage to fulfil those tasks. To replace writing compositions by essays on current subjects or expressions of personal attitude towards a literary work or a character. To pay more attention to an improvement of speech and speaking culture of the pupils. To reduce the gap between school and University requirements.
To pay more attention to professional diagnostics for undergraduates, giving preference to those, who according to the results of such diagnostics comply with the profile of the University. To pay more attention to school ergonomics, because it influences children significantly. To develop measures for raising the teacher's status.
To use the positive Russian school experience wider. To develop a system of public encouragement of teachers by means of creating special vouchers, issued to parents. Publicly recognised teachers must have a bigger salary for their work. This idea can help to avoid subjectivism when teachers are stimulated by a school administration. To lower the retirement age for teachers as for a hazardous profession.
The parents are also going to apply to the government with a request to introduce benefits for ventures that provide charity aid for schools. To relief parents from taxation for the amounts that they pay for a financial support of schools. To introduce a right for parents to attend lessons together with their children.
To broaden practical interaction between education managing authorities and parent community and to take into consideration their expertise during the school attestations.
Also in the "In Depth"
09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan