When James Agaba walked out of the supermarket one Saturday morning, he found that his car had been blocked by an old pickup truck. He was so incensed and started hurling insults at the woman occupying the passenger seat. He also promised to beat up a younger man who emerged from the supermarket and demanded to know why Agaba was shouting at his mother. After a few minutes, the young man drove away.
The next day, Agaba went to visit his daughter at one of the prominent boarding schools in Wakiso District. One of the day’s activities, was parents-teachers interaction.
As it turned out, the man Agaba had dehumanised the previous day was his daughter’s class teacher.
The discomfort in the meeting that happened a few weeks before Agaba’s daughter could sit her Senior Four exams was evident. After the 15-minute interaction, Agaba mumbled an apology and drove out of the school at breakneck speed.
With our day-to-day activities that expose us to people from all walks of life, Agaba’s incident is not isolated. Matter of fact, several people have had altercations with people they deem strangers and among them, their children’s teachers. Yet, according to John Katongole, the head teacher St Peter’s Senior Secondary School, Naalya, in the absence of the parents, it is the teachers who take care of the children. In this regard, parents should endeavour to know who they leave their children with.
“Teachers sometimes know a child more than their parent because these children spend more time at school than home, making the teacher more familiar with the child’s behaviour and progress,” says Katongole.
Rose Katengeke, a mother of five, says teachers are important figures in her children’s lives because she is a busy person who enrolls her children in boarding school at Primary Three.
“To know more about my children and also be able to monitor their performance, I always make sure that I get to know their teachers. I always take their phone numbers so that I can constantly talk to them and get updates about my children,” she says.
Somehow, she adds, the relationship between her and the teachers has helped her children become comfortable at school. “When they see us interact, they know they have a second parent they can talk to or seek guidance from,” she adds.
Sometimes, Katongole says, parents get to meet their children’s teachers after the student has committed an offence at school. Although this is the norm, some parents do not even show up when summoned for their children’s disciplinary issues but instead send a representative with the excuse of ‘being busy’.
“Such a parent can barely be a parent,” he says, adding that some of these relationships should not be taken for granted because they benefit the child as well.
Katengeke says a child’s good performance is a combined effort between the parents and teachers because it is the teacher who knows the child’s worst and best done subjects so during class days, both parties can discuss a way to help the child.
Lordrich Kananura, a pupil at St Peters Primary School, Nsambya says he used to hate his parents’ interaction with the head teacher because his results were way below what his parents needed but then it was from these meetings that a decision to put him through coaching started improving his results.
“When my mother spoke to the class teacher, he made sure that he checked my notes every week and also gave me papers for revision,” he says.
Katongole says parents of days scholars sometimes do not see any need to meet up with teachers since they check on their children’s academic progress daily, forgetting that there are some other areas of the child that are being ignored.
“Sometimes when the parents come for visitation at school, they majorly mind about giving their children edibles and ignore reading the circulars which advise them to meet up with the teachers and review the student’s performance and behaviour,” says Katongole.
“A parent needs to get curious when a child does not ask them to meet their teachers on visitation day, most especially in schools that issue beginning of term and mid-term results because this is when the teacher tells the parent about their child’s weaknesses and also where the child needs to improve so if there is any assistance is required, the teacher and parent can discuss on how to go about it,” Joshua Akorikin, a student.
Avoid the lies. Children sometimes have a tendency of keeping their parents away from the teachers because they think their relationship with the teachers will inconvenience their social life at school.
Be vigilant. When it comes to their children’s wellbeing, parents need to take it upon themselves and meet their children’s class teachers because if they do not bring up the idea, the child will dodge it.
Some students have been accused of deliberately frustrating meetings between their teachers and parents. Joshua Akorikin, a student, says some of his undisciplined peers do not want their parents to meet the teachers. He says it is better for the teacher to discuss the child in their presence because that is when the real information about the child will be revealed and there will be no room for denial. And in case the teacher is exaggerating, then the child will have a chance to defend themselves.