The School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension hosts colloquium on the impact of remote schooling on parents with students enrolled in private secondary schools

By Brenda Odhiambo

On Thursday, July 9, the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension hosted a colloquium on the impact of remote schooling on parents whose children were enrolled in private secondary schools in Nairobi County. The study sought to explore the impact that synchronous and asynchronous remote schooling had had on the parents of primary and secondary school students, who had to suddenly adjust to this mode of learning.

The paper, which was the first of its kind to explore the impact of remote schooling on the parents of remotely schooled students in Kenya, was focused on determining whether there were better ways that parents could adjust to both working from home and homeschooling their children, in addition to exploring whether home schooling affected parents’ productivity in their work.

Dr. Emmanual Adejoke, the lead author of the paper, noted that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had led to a sudden shift in lifestyle for both parents and students, which created several challenges for parents, who now had to homeschool their children through remote learning, and to students, who had to adjust to learning away from the classrooms.

“Due to the pandemic, the continuity of education was at stake, as there was no way to determine the exact time at which the pandemic would be over, so that schools would resume, which meant that there would be a loss of things that were learnt in the past, which was an issue of concern among parents and students,” she said.

“Parents also had the additional challenge of trying to meet basic needs due to the loss of income and jobs as a result of the pandemic, in addition to trying to meet the costs of the adoption of the technology required for the adoption of remote learning,” she added.

According to the study, among those who had remote learning programs for their children, it was determined that parental assistance with technology for remote learning was a major challenge, with a 55.5% response rate, while 51.8% of the study’s respondents noted that they faced financial challenges of catering for the technology tools. Respondents also reported facing challenges in terms of unavailability of technology and extra costs of feeding the students at home at 37.3% and 26.4%, respectively.

In her presentation, Dr. Adejoke highlighted the fact that with remote learning, it was not possible to appropriately determine and control the optimal levels of parental involvement in students’ learning, noting that there was no existing standard that controlled what is imparted to guardians about their duties or how that data is conveyed.

“Some online schools expect guardians to watch a video that clarifies their job as a supervisor, or mentor, however, doesn’t consolidate an ensuing check for comprehension or perception to ensure that guardians are sticking to the prerequisites. Moreover, guardians don’t have the preparation to give similar assistance needed to encourage their child’s participation in online schooling,” she said.

In his comments, Dr. Collins Oduor, the paper’s co-author noted that parental involvement was critical in the student success, noting that it was important for schools to have different levels at which parents would be involved in their children’s schooling.

“For parental inclusion to happen and be viable, schools must furnish guardians with different chances to have their influence in their children’s training. Teachers must also ensure that the structure is adhered to by having continued correspondence with families,” he said.

He also pointed out the importance of parental reinforcement in the success of their children’s virtual learning, noting that it entailed supporting parental behaviors that contributed to the development and strengthening of a child’s positive attitude towards learning, as well as a parent’s positive attitude such as self-confidence which impacts on the child and encourages better attitude towards virtual learning.

Dr. Oduor highlighted some of the positive aspects of remote learning, which included: reduced schooling costs due to a lack of commuting to and from school, ability to monitor the quality of education offered, ability to monitor the children’s character and attitude to education, better support for children with disability, among others.

The study concluded that remote learning could be easily accepted by many Kenyan parents, with 39.8% of the respondents noting that they would recommend the implementation of remote schooling, having experienced some benefits from it, with 24.8% indicating that they would not recommend its implementation. In their recommendation, Dr. Adejoke and Dr. Oduor noted that it would be critical for the government to address the factors that may hinder effective remote learning, thus encouraging parental involvement and support. They also recommended that the government and education practitioners should officially develop and implement standards and curriculum for the implementation of remote learning in Kenya in preparation for future pandemics.

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