“Statistics show that over 90% of head teachers have reported poor school-family communication, which according to them is primarily due to parent lack of incentive to communicate with teachers in general, and a gap in understanding, between teachers and parents, about what education should be. In contrast to this, 68% of parents feel moderately to extremely anxious about their children’s schooling. This data clearly indicates that measures are required to support and encourage families to take a more active role in their children’s education,” said Zhu Yongxin, a CPPCC member and Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy.
The issue first began to gain importance after President Xi Jinping remarked at the 2018 National Education Conference that “families, schools, governments and the society as a whole have a shared responsibility to foster educational development. The first teacher of any child is the parent, who must equip them with the lessons that will prepare them for life.” A series of policies such as Guidelines on Promoting Family Involvement in Children’s Education were also introduced to urge local governments to help families play a greater role in education.
However, some problems remain, such as disputes between parents and schools, and parent anxiety and confusion about what school really is. “These issues need to be dealt with head-on using multiple approaches”, said Zhu, who tabled a three-point proposal at the “Two Sessions”:
First, schools should foster a sound family-school partnership by informing parents and other family members on how their responsibilities are different from those of teachers and what they can do to support their children’s learning. Successful partnerships are conducive to the prevention, mitigation and elimination of school-family conflict.
Second, education authorities can ease widespread parent anxiety through awareness-raising campaigns, such as disseminating knowledge about children’s moral education and parent-child relationships, providing guidance on parent participation in the education of their children, and publicizing related policies, including those on school enrollment.
Third, other related government agencies such as the Working Committee for the Care of the Next Generation, women’s federations and public communication departments as well as communities can work together to create a favorable environment for family involvement. For example, they can organize awareness-raising activities to debunk the idea that the goal of education is to get children into a top university, and encourage schools to offer assistance to needy families such as single-parent, second-marriage families, and families where parents have been forced to leave their children with relatives in order to take up work elsewhere.