I started out as a boarder in the second term of standard eight. It was a dream come true. The school was a stone’s throw away from home, I’d been there all my life, my friends were there and as the boarding bit was new, we were pampered to no end. We had hot water, a great breakfast and we went to church in town as opposed to a chapel in the school (for a while anyway). Our parents (the ones who didn’t see us at mass) could pop in at will and since most of us were from around the area; it was not uncommon.
High school was an entirely different ball game. It was at an inconvenient location in the middle of nowhere. One needed two matatus to get there plus a ten minutes walk uphill. The distance from the gate was equally menacing, one had to stand and wait while the watchman went to enquire on your behalf if you would be allowed to enter. Visitors were frowned upon.
Back then, Matiang’i was not around to introduce week-long midterm vacations and our school did not host many “funkies” so the only contact we had with the outside world during the school term was math contests (never did make the cut for this) and prayer day. Our parents barely came to the school (no complaints on my parents’ end). This was until they introduced “academic clinics”. The parents were supposed to come in and discuss the performance with the class teacher and any matters arising with the principal. It happened once (or maybe that’s the only one I remember) and it was held on a Thursday. A Thursday for crying out loud. It was a group chat with the parents and the teacher. My parents didn’t have follow-up questions so, after this, they were pretty much done with the event and could go back to their business.
Father was not impressed. He had taken several days off work for something that barely made an impact on any of our lives. He worked in Kapsabet and usually came home once a fortnight. Travelling was a full day, possibly a day of rest, another for his errands and another to travel back, so usually, his “weekend” had to start on a Wednesday. Now to put an event on a Thursday (assuming this was the week he had set to travel and on the off chance he began his journey on Thursday as is the norm) was more than a mild inconvenience. To do this for a five-minute chat was a slap in the face and I could understand his irritation and reluctance to want a repeat of the event.
Fast forward a few years and I now work for a high-output organization, where one cannot afford to miss a day of work or the dominos will embark on a long free fall. Falling sick is literary an inconvenience and lunch is on the go or at your desk. Time is money. Literary. We have timesheets to account for each hour of the workday. To imagine taking a day off for a five-minute chat would have me pulling off my braids at the roots!
The above two situations would be exacerbated by having more than one child and in different schools all with different “clinic days”. I would not imagine the boss being very forthcoming with repeated requests for workdays (smack in the middle of the week), especially if more than one of his employees is requesting it.
I am all for constantly checking up on my child as often as possible (as it should be), especially with all the stories hitting the media about bullying by students and some not even getting to mainstream media but causing much more emotional trauma but is it really fair to impose weekday seminars or meetings for parents? Do the school heads and the teachers factor in the man hours lost in travelling and attending these events? Is there any difference in the mode of delivery on a weekday and on a weekend?
Here are a few reasons I feel these events should be held over the weekend, preferably on Saturdays.
- Schedules are not interrupted. This goes for both the parents and the students. Since Saturday is usually a day of revision and general cleaning for the students (in high school), their syllabus studies will not be interrupted and the general cleaning can be pushed to early morning to give parents ample time to get to the school. The parents will also not need to take off days especially if they do not work shifts and workdays end on Friday.
- Saturday mid-morning and afternoon will give ample time for travel. The event can be set for between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm. Parents arriving earlier can have the teacher-parent individual meeting with the group session coming in as the last when the majority of the parents have arrived.
- More time for bonding. Weekday travel would be rushed because one would have to travel back and make arrangements for getting to work the next day, especially if the school is in a different county. Saturday would be more relaxed and would allow ample time for the parents to mingle amongst themselves and trade stories. This would allow a fresh perspective into the life the students are living and the challenges they are facing. New friendships will be fostered and a stronger voice to fight for better rights for the students.
- Factoring in the needs of siblings. Some parents who don’t have live-in help and usually pick up the children on the way home from work would be extremely distracted during the meeting trying to ensure that the meeting does not spill over past drop off time of the other child(ren) or have to make arrangements with a neighbour or a relative to pick them up.
- Getting days off is not that easy. To be honest, having parents’ meetings, sports days, and swimming galas during the week makes it hard for parents especially for women who have to choose between making sure they see their child succeed and losing days off work. We live in a fast pasted economy and getting days off during the term to go for prayer days, swimming galas can have career implications especially when you have children in different schools. One wants to be a great parent and sometimes this makes it all the harder to juggle, and not look like a bad parent when one cannot leave a work meeting to go to a school event that could have been held on a Saturday so that all parents can attend.
All in all, the reasons may vary from parent to parent and some may even prefer the weekday meets, but the burden for working parents – especially single parents – would register after more than one weekday event.
Featured Image via Star News.