Parents neglecting their role in children’s education 

Source: Parents neglecting their role in children’s education – NewsDay Zimbabwe

Cuthbert Mavheko
THE conflagration of moral decadence which is raging in the country has inflicted immeasurable damage on our culture, leaving millions of youths like ship without a rudder, being tossed about in a raging sea of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual immorality and unadulterated rebelliousness.

It is disheartening to note that youths in our country today spend most of their time at vuzu parties, bottlestores, shebeens and beer gardens, imbibing highly-intoxicating substances like tototomusombodhiya, bronco and partaking of drugs like crystal meth (mutoriro), cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana, among other harmful drugs. Later, they engage in delinquent behaviour.

They assault people, commit armed robberies, gang rape and murder.

The trend is so frightening in what it portends that it ought to shake every responsible citizen out of complacency and act now to stem the tide of juvenile lawlessness, which is corroding the very moral fabric of our nation.

While it is an incontestable fact that the abuse of drugs and alcohol, negative peer pressure, unemployment and decadent television films are the prime causes of delinquency among youths, it certainly would be breathtakingly naive to exonerate our Education ministry for clinging, with the tenacity of savannah ticks, onto a convoluted education system, which places undue emphasis on the technical aspects of education, while paying lip service to its moral side.

It is my humble submission that the aim of all education — whether at home, at work or at schoolought to be the teaching of moral values and ethics, instead of merely funnelling information into empty minds.

In respect of this, Albert Eistein, a renowned scientist, once said: “It is essential that the student acquires an understanding of, and a lively feeling for values, otherwise with his specialised knowledge, he more resembles a trained dog than a harmoniously developed person.”

While the technical aspect of education is essential as a means to earning a living, its value diminishes if it is not built on a solid moral/ethical base.

True education demands more than just possessing technical information.

It requires a continuing change of behaviour in a student in a wholesome direction.

Put more straightforwardly, true education must have as its explicit goal, the moral betterment of the child — the creation of moral instruction that fosters a sense of responsibility in children.

There is consensus of opinion among some well-meaning Zimbabweans that parents are neglecting their role in the education of their offspring.

They aver that is one of the major reasons why juvenile delinquency has assumed mind-boggling dimensions in the country.

“The one ingredient that is missing in our education system today is the participation of parents in the education of children. Nowadays, parents no longer help in the education of children; they send their children off to school at the tender ages of 5 or 6 years and leave everything in the hands of teachers.

“It should not be that way. Educating a child is a responsibility which entails the participation and involvement of teachers and parents.

“Not all teachers are parents, but all parents are teachers, indispensable teachers. And as teachers, parents have the first and largest responsibility for educating their children,” said Sukhulwenkosi Mpala, a retired educationist.

Father Alexio Mukaro, a marriage and child counsellor in the Roman Catholic Church, echoed similar sentiments: “The culture of rebelliousness, which has transformed the majority of youths in our country into rowdy, misguided rebels has its roots in the home, where children are born and nurtured; so the solution must come from home.

“Parents are the child’s first educators and have a moral obligation to teach their offspring sound morals and ethics in order to mould them into obedient, disciplined and God-fearing individuals.

“As every parent knows, teaching character is a very difficult task, but it is a crucial task because we want all our children to be, not only healthy, happy and successful, but decent, strong and law-abiding.

“None of this happens automatically, there is no genetic transmissions of virtue.

“It takes conscious, committed effort to mould children into morally-upright individuals,” he said.

Father Mukaro said the training of morals should begin early in the life of a child: “A small sapling can easily be manipulated to grow in the right direction, but once it becomes a mature tree, it is impossible to change it.

“Similarly, children can be trained when they are  still young.

“However, when parents renege on the responsibility of teaching and training their children when they are still young, there comes a time when they may no longer be able to teach them,” said Father Mukaro.

“The instruction manual (Holy Bible) constantly stresses parental role in the teaching of morals and ethics to children.

“In respect of this, Deuteronomy 11:19 (King James Version) says: “You shall teach your children when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.”

This instruction is repeated in Proverbs 22:6, which says: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

In my long career as a journalist, I interviewed many youths addicted to drugs and alcoholic beverages.

A significant number of them said they partook of drugs and alcoholic drinks because of their parents’ addiction to the same substances.

Children are natural mimics and learn from examples more than from words. A child’s personality often mirrors that of his/her parents.

The mannerisms, habits, vocabulary and opinions of children often reflect those of their parents — for better or for worse. So, it is crucially important for parents to always strive to set a good example when rearing children.

In rounding off this discourse, let me point out that no one needs and requires love more than a child.

As parents, we can manifest this love by moral example and instruction, in forgiveness and in discipline.

We should make it our goal to show this kind of love to our children.

The good manners and discipline that we teach our children will go a long way in helping to mould them into morally-upright, law-abiding citizens and we will have done a fine job of building a blessed nation.

  • Cuthbert Mavheko is a freelance journalist based in Bulawayo. He writes here in his personal capacity.