Parents urged to be more involved in children’s education, especially in matric

Equal Education March for unplaced learners at Metro East Education District Western Cape Department of Education. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Equal Education March for unplaced learners at Metro East Education District Western Cape Department of Education. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 27, 2024


More needs to be done to help learners in bad-performing schools, starting before they reach matric.

This is the view of education experts after some dismal performances with their matric results from some schools.

Dr Dorothy Esau, learning and teaching co-ordinator for the Faculty of Education at Cape Peninsula University of Technology said while she has it from good authority that the provincial education department is pouring millions of rand into intervention programmes at schools, it does not help if vulnerable learners struggling academically are promoted throughout their schooling years, from phase to phase.

“Eventually (these learners) end up in matric, without receiving the much-needed psycho-social and academic support to at least fend academically for themselves.

“An ideal intervention strategy is to start every new academic year with a baseline assessment (through tests, observations, reflections, conversations, etc). This will enable the teacher to ascertain each learners’ academic and cognitive developmental level, (while an) individual growth plan can be developed for vulnerable learners …”

According to the 2023 National Senior Certificate exam results school performance report, the Western Cape had an overall matric pass rate of 81.54% and placed fifth nationally among all provinces. Schools which usually have a pass rate of below 60%, fall under the “underperforming” category.

However, Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said of the schools achieving below 60% in 2022, 80% of the schools improved their results.

Hammond said there were factors that affected schools which were also beyond their control.

“These include community or transport disruption, adverse weather conditions, burglary and vandalism, poverty, gangsterism… At the same time, an apathetic educator, poor school leadership and management and ill discipline can also impact the performance of a particular year.”

The department also urged parents to ensure their children attended school every day, were punctual and prepared for their their lessons.

“They must encourage healthy living – ensuring that their children have a healthy balance between homework and extra-curricular activities – encouraging sports and other cultural activities over other anti-social activities,” Hammond says.

As part of their intervention the department says they will engage with all underperforming schools, to guide them in the development of improvement plans, and will monitor progress in the implementation of these plans closely over the coming year.

“Our support plans will be tailored to address the pertinent issues in each of our identified underperforming schools.

“We are committed to improving the outcomes of these schools, and also, identifying schools that could be at risk of falling into this category. Interventions are also required here,” she said.

The department further listed their interventions such as the matric revision booklet and Tips for Success booklet delivered to all matrics at their schools (past papers, important dates, study tips and other guidance), Holiday tutoring programmes, #BackOnTrack Saturday classes for selected schools, afternoon and Saturday revision classes organised by schools

Telematic programmes, as well as their ePortal with specific resources for Grade 12.

“We are currently engaged in the thorough analysis of the 2023 NSC results in order to understand the full extent of the challenge at hand.

“Once we have collated the relevant data, we will formulate comprehensive support plans to tackle the identified challenges at every possible level,” Hammond says.

Dr. Esau encouraged the creation of a safe, supportive environment for teachers to develop learners’ full potential and to voice their opinions.

“Parents must start owning up, showing up, and taking responsibility for the children entrusted to their care.

“Holistic teacher and learner well-being should be prioritised as a matter of national urgency.

Management should set goals and be deliberate about it,” she says.

Student spiritual support and counselling mentor Dr. Andre Powan also believes intervention starts at home.

“The WCED, school staff and district offers their full support. For instance at Crestway teachers and students need much more support from our community, than what they are currently getting.

“Some parents know their children are involved with things that are not welcomed in school, yet they allow these children to come and disrupt school and distract the learners that want to learn.

“It starts in the home of these students. The parents must get more actively involved, this is their children’s last year, they need to also put in extra attention.

“The parent must be actively involved with counsellors, and come in and report matters from the home front that could negatively affect their children’s final year and that of other students.

“I speak specifically about parents that know about gang involvement of their children in our communities. They can come speak to the counsellors and the matter can possibly be remedied before it becomes worse and spills over to the rest of the matrics and other learners,” he said.

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