Managing Parent-School Relationship In these days of Obsessive Social Media

Prince Debo Luwaji

By Prince Debo Luwaji

These days it really doesn’t take a long time to read of some fresh scandalous news in the social media. They keep tumbling in one after another in quick succession. I am particularly concerned here with those that relate to the education of children in our schools and the interrelationship between the stakeholders of which I am one.

A few days ago it was the viral images of bullying in an elite school in Abuja that stirred public outrage, compelling a brief short down by the government. Hadly have we rested from that unsavoury news than we are hit again with another school-related incident: this time it’s a case of an angry, “I-will-make-this-go-viral” parent whose child was turned back at the school gate for being 30 minutes late and made to return home all by himself.

In the aforestated cases and many others before them, it must be admitted that the aggrieved parents are justified to feel gravely let down by the manner in which their children’s schools abdicated their duty of care.

To whom much is given, so much more is expected. The guardianship attribute of a school is what makes it deserving of those entrusted in its care. In other words, safety of the children first, perhaps more than the quality of learning facilities in any school, ought to be considered most paramount, largely because of the potentially grave consequences of any mishap. Life matters.

Yet, as with these cases before us, the fact that the affected parents are often the ones directly involved in escalating the issues into public consciousness should give school owners and administrators enough cause for concern.

Whatever happened to those good old days in which no issues between the school and parent, however contentious, was ever beyond what a round table discussion with the management could solve?. In rare cases, where a parent is particularly heady or habitually canterkerous, the school could still reach out to family or friends of the aggrieved in an attempt to broker peace. A dispute between a parent and the school rarely ever went beyond involving the PTA executives and it still wont spill into the public square. A parent dragging the school of his child to court over a case of negligence was almost unthinkable!

But not anymore. Not in these days of the ubiquitous social media where events are reported almost before they take place. Once it’s in that open, unfettered space, the story takes up irrepressible wings, flying far and wide, with so much distortions and embellishments added along the way!

Yorubas call those who delight in spreading these kinds of news as “gbaronmi d’eleru” ; sympathisers who would roll on the grounds and cry themselves hoarse even as the bereaved is seen maintaining a stoic resignation to his fate!

Aa ri iru eleyi ri, a fi nderu ba oloro ni ” Saying this is unprecedented is, more often than not, an attempt at scaremongering.

Nothing is new under the sun! Bullying is despicable and must not be tolerated in any form or shape. Yet, the history of bullying is as old as schooling: wherever there are pupils in appreciable numbers, all from different family backgrounds, the tendency to see one attempting to take advantage of another is not new and is almost inevitable.

To be fair, schools have successfully handled several of such cases in the past, with punishments and counselling given to parties involved as deemed appropriate, all to the end that both the agressor and the victim still ended up as role models of exemplary characters over time.

Here, I have a word to share with our wonderful parents. To make the partnership with your child’s school works to the best of yours and other interests, you must appreciate the enormity of the pressures on the school in dealing with different matters on a daily basis. The task of moulding an assemblage of the good, the bad and the ugly into the best possible versions of themselves is what makes teachers a special breed. You cannot understand how exerting the responsibility on their shoulders is unless you are involved.

In dealing with bad behaviour, especially those accentuated by this same corruptible social media, our teachers contend daily with the putrid results of parental negligence and their stupid indulgences.

Were it possible for our schools to come to the open too with the rot they discover in many children, even those little ones in the primary school, much of which were dealth with effectively but noiselessly in the course of the daily routine of teaching, counselling and remolding, many affected parents will be too ashamed to return to their places of worship next Sunday nor continue to stay much longer in the same communities where their neighbours think so highly of them!

Trust me, many of today’s pupils are a handful, made perrenially incorrigible by inattentive parents.

So, as a parent, you cannot but be intentional in your support of your child(ren)’s school at all times.
Be sympathetic. Dont fly over the edge and go public at every incident where your child appears a victim. Take time to listen to the school’s version even as you express your displeasure.

In a general sense, we know every kind of business have good and bad employees. Schools are not different. Some staff are intrinsically dedicated and can be trusted to exercise the right initiatives in protecting every interest involved in all circumstances. Sadly, some are not. Many are those who, out of stupidity or deliberate nonchalance, can bring serious embarrassment upon the school by their actions. Like the teacher or securityman who sent the the poor little child back home unaccompanied for such a flimsy reason, with no thoughts for the potential dangers involved.

Far from making excuses for schools, those worth their salt know fully well the responsibility they bear. School business is not one to be handled carelessly. This is especially so if you have a brand recognition that needs to be protected at all costs.

To the administrator, employing good hands and enhancing their competencies through regular retraining programmes is a sure way of providing value for money to parents and also protecting your school’s huge investments. You dont need staff in any department – drivers, security, teaching, hostel etc who are prone to committing grave errors. Dispense with them before they put your business in jeopardy!

We all know that anything negative can happen in that anonymous school tucked somewhere in an unknown locality and nobody will care to report it. Not so your school that has earned its high reputation over many years of huge investments as well as continous improvements in human and learning resources.

Just as your school is the talk-of-the-town and preferred choice for parents among many others, it is by the same token, a target for ‘lay abouts’ who knows a single negative report on your school would make an immediate headline!. The reputational damage may be collosal, and who else should care but you!

For schools therefore, now more than anytime in the past, eternal vigilance is your watch words.

Prince Debo Luwaji is a
Public Affairs analyst and Entrepreneur

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