JOHN VIANNEY AHUMUZA
Uganda has indeed progressed in embracing universal education. It is interesting that the school-going children have also done tremendous work somehow enabling illiterate parents to grasp a few English words for communication. In some homes, even lower primary school pupils have been used as references for interpretation. This academic wave has also come with new dynamics that need serious attention. For example, in many pre-primary and primary schools, non-boarding pupils are in most cases subjected to daily homework. The assumption of such schools is that parents, guardians or family members should be in position to guide the pupil in accomplishing their homework.
What is also at large is whether in any way either during parent-teacher meetings, schools take an hour or two on their programme to guide parents on the correct methods for guiding their children in doing homework. In most cases such meetings are decorated with speeches about school achievements forming justifications for fees increment to be pronounced! Least is even spent on teaching the role of a parent to their children or the dos and don’ts in a home.
Regarding homework, some parents are quick to answer almost all questions for their children because they want them to get good grades. Others seem to employ hired guides to do the work for their pupils all aimed at good grades! As a result when class teachers receive feedback for marking, they get confused as if students do well when they are out of class and struggle in class!
Normally, at the end of every take-home exercise should be a part that seeks for parents comment. Some parents simply sign without any comments. Others write words like, “seen” and then match on! But on the contrary, that part requires a person who has supervised a student to be sincere and write objective observations. Such comments may include statements like, “The pupil managed to do all the work on their own with least assistance though multiplication questions are still a challenge”. This would enable a teacher to support such pupil in class to fix this gap. But this sincerity is always missing. Most parents want to praise their pupils as if all is well and excellent. This underscores effective learning.
I would like therefore to recommend the following steps that could aid our learners do better in homework, especially the day scholars:
l Step one is to always allow a student to first do the work independently with no guidance. They may skip questions they may not completely know.
l Step two is to review students answers and give just a hint on the attempted numbers.
l Step three is to give a parallel question that will lead the learner to a related answer.
l The last step is for the parent to weigh the degree of the students’ performance in the homework and write a true and honest feedback that will guide the teacher to fix gaps in the next lessons.
The above approach will help us produce honest students reflecting the honesty of their parents and guardians. This will also close the mismatch gap between teachers’ and parents’ observations. I have personally taken it upon myself that during the visitation of my children, a teacher must give me a report on behavioral progress beyond academic performance.
This is the way to go as Uganda gallops towards National Development Plan III that is in the offing.