Education, the right for children
Education is for whom? Why is education needed? Is that notion clear to all? Who is the primary beneficiary of education? Why are the parents in slum or the parents who are illiterate daily labour in villages asking education? I think the parents or guardian know the gist answer to these questions without having any theoretical and bookish discussion. Education is the prime right of a child denoted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This concept is universal. There might have nobody to dis-agreeing with the need for education, but the interpretation of this need might be different in different social contexts or in different communities.
Education expenditure: The parents’ responsibility
Who is responsible for bearing the expenditure on education? In the Bangladesh context, the parents or guardians are the primary stakeholders who incur the education expenditure. Culturally the parents consider that, and it is their responsibility to ensure the growth and development of their children, even to boost up the children to be established in life. As education is an imperative tool to be developed and self-dependent, guardian pays for it for their children.
Now, it has been established to all classes of the society and very recently to the lower middle class and poor that, education has a market value. The knowledge and skill derived from education can be salable. So, the parents are eager to achieve education for their children. This is why the parents grasp a keen interest in education and hence they have been appeared as a robust stakeholder.
The monitor, as a primary stakeholder
Monitoring is a vital factor for ensuring quality, especially for primary and secondary education. There is an established monitoring system in both the sector of education. But this is predominantly bureaucratic, traditional and non-efficient with many more manipulation. Who can do a stunt to expedite the system? How can the process of monitoring be innovative and out of the box? As a primary stakeholder, the parents may be that personnel who can add value to the system having a new eye from a new corner. The feedback from the parents and community derived from monitoring is public oversight. This can add value to the inclusive decision-making process for achieving the intended quality.
Monitoring is a vital factor for ensuring quality, especially for primary and secondary education. There is an established monitoring system in both the sector of education. But this is predominantly bureaucratic, traditional and non-efficient with many more manipulation.
How parents can be a monitor
Culturally the teachers are honorable persons in society. They are social leaders. The teachers are reckoned as wise, respectable and well-reputed persons especially in rural areas. In any social occasion like marriage, local judicial process or religious ceremony, a teacher is honored with an esteemed position.
So, the parents, especially in rural areas (when they are illiterate or hold little bit literacy), may not be so competent and confident enough to put a remark on education quality. In addition to that, mothers (who may appear as an important stakeholder) may be shaky to raise the voice, as the significant portion of mothers are illiterate or obtained very low level of literacy. Hence we have to make a transformation for making a congenial environment and to break the silence.
Accessibility to query
The social dynamics are being reformed in comparison to the previous era. Now both the male and female play a similar role in economic activities or labor force or any other sector. Still, the accessibility of the parents in school is not frequent, significant and appreciating. Albeit the demand for education has been amplified, the voice for quality is not loud in rural areas especially by the parents having low-level literacy. There are some interventions like UTHAN BAITHAK (yard meeting) that have been initiated; the voice for quality is yet to be flamboyant.
To expedite the revolution and raise the voice, we have to be open up and make familiar with the accessibility for the parents in the schoolyard. A culture of query should be in place so that questions for quality even by the illiterate parents being commendable. As a primary stakeholder, parents should be welcoming for revealing out for practicing the rights of education.
Is parents’ meeting meaning-worthy?
Parents’ meeting is an intervention where a parent-teacher relationship can be built and practiced. At present, how much is it fruitful and meaning-worthy? It is mainly paper-oriented and traditional. Sometimes both the teachers and parents are reckoning the meeting as a waste of time. But this intervention might be beneficial if the culture of dialogue can be established. When parents feel this event is the area where they can contribute in favor of the education of their children, they will be interested in attending the meeting and will make time somehow.
When the parent-teacher relationship is durable and both the parties feel free to practice the phenomena, monitoring by the community is value-adding for accomplishing quality education.
Community friendly monitoring tool
There is no ambiguity about the technicality of the process of monitoring. Yet it can be practiced by the community making the whole thing easy and community-friendly. Some NGOs like Plan International practiced community monitoring in the government primary schools in their program area; before more than a decade. When the parent-teacher relationship is durable and both the parties feel free to practice the phenomena, monitoring by the community is value-adding for accomplishing quality education.
Ratan Kumar Sarkar: Program Specialist, BRAC Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University