HOW can you help improve your child’s experience in school?
Previously parents would be expected to take part in some activities.
These included the child’s registration day, report card day, performance target setting day, prize giving day and the annual parent–teacher association meeting.
“In the Ministry of Education (MoE), we believe that parental involvement is an essential part of a successful learning system.
“So we feel the urgent need to encourage this involvement by introducing the initiative, which is ‘Increasing Parental and Community Involvement in School Ecosystem’ as a priority in the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB) 2013-2025.
“Numerous studies have identified parent engagement as a critical factor affecting the success of individual students and the school environment itself,” said Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin.
He said many may not realise that high rates of student success are generally the result of three groups collaborating to provide the best opportunities for the future which are teachers, parents and the community.
“Schools, parents, and the community can work together to promote the wellbeing and learning of all students,” he said.
These partnerships can result in sharing and maximising resources, he said, adding that they help children and youth develop healthy behaviours.
This initiative, Dr Amin added, is designed to have a two-pronged approach, which are to increase parental awareness on benefits of their involvement in schools and to increase the quality of parental involvement in school.
“In measuring the effectiveness of intervention, the ministry monitors two key area which have direct parental involvement. These are the parent’s attendance in six key school activities and voluntary parental participation in school.
“For 2017, the MOE has successfully achieved the target set, which is to have 94% of schools to meet the minimum 65% of parental attendance in key school activities and another 82% of schools managed to achieve more than 25% of voluntary parental participation,” he said.
There is a high correlation between family and community partnerships and student achievement, he added.
Parental involvement at school is also linked to greater participation in the community.
“However, partnerships between parents, community groups and schools need to be real partnerships. “Schools that engage parents and the community help build and sustain confidence and support,” he said. Respect and trust are built when parents and members of the community are invited into the school.
“Each school is a rich community resource with assets that include its facilities, equipment and materials, entertainment (sporting or artistic events), human resources (both the staff and the students), programmes for students, and courses for the broader community,” said PADU executive director for System Structure Dr Noorliza Zakuan.
PADU is a delivery unit supporting the ministry in implementing the MEB at schools.
In supporting the initiative, the MOE has been promoting the importance of parental involvement in schools through numerous mediums.
Parents are shown that children’s education is a form of investment and to inform them that parental support is not limited to material or financial aspect but can also be in the form of continuous support and time.
Another improvement that has been developed is the update in “Sarana Ibu Bapa” which aims to provide parents with parenting skills to effectively coach their children as partners in the ministry.
Finally, the ministry has also produced guidelines for parents as classroom volunteers which allows them to be teaching assistants in the classroom.
This will significantly help in reducing teachers’ burden as well as making parents more involved in their child’s education.
Throughout the years, the initiative can not only be measured by the attendance of parents, but more to the qualitative and measuring the impact of parental involvement.
For example, in SJK (C) Lai Meng, parents took the initiative to conduct storytelling sessions in promoting moral values and character growth while in SMK Rawang, parents started a football team in the school to reduce disciplinary cases by giving the students activities to do after school hours.
The students now see the volunteer parents as friends and role models who they can share problems and issues with.
Parental involvement in the school ecosystem is vital in promoting an education transformation. By having an active parental role in education, the entire education ecosystem can benefit from parents to teachers and especially to students.
The success of many initiatives in the MEB remain dependent on the level of engagement of parents.
If these many initiatives are bricks to build a mansion that is a transformed education system, then parental engagement would be the mortar which holds the bricks together.
The advantages of collaborative approaches work in two ways.
The school benefits as do families and the community agencies, institutions and other groups. The capacity of the community to understand and serve the needs of students and their families increases as a result of engagement in the school.
Similarly, awareness of and access to services for children and families are increased.
As parent coordinator for the classical Indian class in SJK (T) Kajang, Ambulagi Venugopal said: “You will only realise your child’s fullest potential when you are involved all the way.”
“By volunteering at school, you are helping your children. Because if it’s not us, who else?” she said.
Benefits to students, parents & schools
It is easier for children to learn when they get encouragement from home;
They will do better and achieve more when their parents are involved;
Pupils’ concerns can be sorted out more quickly when their parents have a positive relationship with school staff;
Parents bring skills and experience which complement teachers’ expertise; and
Teachers have people with whom they can talk over ideas and get help when developing plans for the school.