RESEARCHERS in the education sector recognise the essential role parents play in the development and education of their children.
The introduction of Continuous Assessment Learning Activity (CALA) for candidates in Grade Seven, Form Four and Upper Six has made it imperative for parents and guardians to be involved in assisting learners to complete their tasks.
Introduced in March 2021 by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, CALA is a learning activity and assessment that requires learners to perform, demonstrate knowledge, understanding and proficiency in various subjects.
According to the Ministry, the exam component of continuous assessment will be based on tasks completed during the final two years at each level. These include Grade Six and Seven for primary school and Forms Three and Four as well as Five and Six at secondary level.
The continuous assessment contributes 30 percent of the marks in the final examination; therefore it is essential that students fully participate in the assessment.
Involvement of parents and guardians in the continuous assessment is, therefore, crucial in the learning process of children to ensure completion of the tasks.
It is important to note that the introduction of CALA goes in line with the competence-based curriculum which commenced in 2017 and seeks to achieve various essential skills from the learners.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has highlighted that the competence-based curriculum seeks: “To motivate learners to cherish their Zimbabwean identity and value heritage, history and cultural traditions and prepare them for participatory citizenship; To prepare learners for life and work in an indigenised economy and increasingly globalised and competitive environment; To ensure learners demonstrate desirable literacy and numeracy skills, including practical competences necessary for life; To prepare and orient learners for participation in voluntary service and leadership; and To foster lifelong learning in line with the emerging opportunities and challenges of a knowledge society.”
Many parents and guardians mistakenly believe that their children’s education is entirely in the hands of teachers but researchers and theorists encourage parental involvement in order to improve academic excellence for children.
Other parents feel CALA is a way by teachers to ridicule and expose their (parents’) ignorance.
But far from it, researchers have noted that learning within the family or among family members is probably one of the most crucial of all educational experiences for an individual.
Parents and children share a common life and the shared experience enables parents to facilitate their children’s sensory development.
Because parents easily understand their children, they are in a better position to assist them in the continuous assessment process; they are the best guide.
This does not mean that because parents are involved they should complete the activities for their children.
Some education theorists like Vygotsky talk about the ‘zone of proximal development’ which highlights the difference between what the child can do on his/her own and what he/she can do with the help from a more able adult.
There is, therefore, a need for parents to draw the line on where their help begins and ends.
However, children or learners are more encouraged when they see their parents involved in their schooling.
The assistance that parents offer their children’s CALA is to assume the role of a facilitator, guide, in conducting intellectual searches and provide financial resources and materials needed to further children’s learning explorations.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also highlighted that, through the competence-based curriculum which, in this case, is being complemented by CALA, learners adopt various skills essential in life.
On their website, the Ministry says the new curriculum will prepare graduates of the education system to have the following exit profiles:
“Skills: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Leadership, Communication and Team Building.
Knowledge: Basic Literacy and Numeracy, Business and Financial Literacy and mastery of specific subject content.
National identity: Patriotism, Recognition and Valuing of National Symbols and Participatory Citizenship.
Values: Discipline, Integrity, Honesty and Unhu /Ubuntu .
Attitudes and Dispositions: Self –initiative and Enterprising, Self-managing and ability to plan and organize.”
When they participate in the schooling of their children, parents must also realise that they are assisting in the national development activities.
CALA activities for exam classes also prepare learners to be able to meet demands of tertiary education which is currently operating under Education 5.0. and entails the importance of teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation.
When parents facilitate learning of their children or ensure completion of CALA, they should realise that the learning process is not all about providing direct instruction or spoon-feeding of content knowledge but should be about children acquiring important skills that lead them to be independent learners.
The learning process at home also provides a platform for a family to bond and improve communication as well as strengthen relationships.