On Thursday afternoon there was an audible buzz in the office as the Senior School’s team prepared for Parents’ Day. Cakes needed baking, cheese needed grating, eggs needed boiling, bread needed ordering, and special coffee mugs had to be found and lugged down from the attic. In the midst of all this activity, speeches were being written and rehearsed in eager anticipation of the event.
On the last day of our March Holiday Bootcamp we invited the parents and guardians of our matric learners to Ekukhuleni to introduce our program and to talk about the challenges of matric and university. “This is one of the most important days on our calendar,” remarked Clare Acheson, Senior Schools Program Manager. Last year we became increasingly aware of the need to partner more intentionally with the parents and guardians of our students. After the success of our first Parents’ Day in 2018, we decided to make it an annual event.
Our Senior School program is run after school hours. Because our classes take place on weekday afternoons, on Saturdays and during the holidays they greatly reduce the time that our learners spend with their families. Their parents and guardians have sacrificed a lot to the program already and this is a chance to show them, we hope, that it has been, and will continue to be, worth their sacrifice.
“If we can get the parents to share the academic dream of their children – we’ve gained a powerful ally in the fight for education,” said Thuliswas Nodada, former Careers Program Manager. Encouraging the families of our learners to believe that tertiary study is not only attainable but hugely beneficial is paramount to our work. ‘Buy-in’ from home is crucial to ensuring that students have the support they need to navigate through matric and beyond.
After the initial introductions and welcoming, which included some singing and words of praise, Bahle Loliwe (Axium Alum and now Science Intern) had the opportunity to speak about his own path through tertiary education. Bahle spoke about how he managed to get through matric with the support of his family and Axium. Sive Mda (also Axium alum and now our careers expert) spoke in depth about the application steps for university: documents needed, university options, application processes, fees, hidden fees, and more.
Both Bahle and Sive spoke about the challenges they faced once they got to university: finances, language barriers, fitting in culturally, and coping with technology, among others.
More talks by Vuyisani Fetumani (Axium Matric in 2018) and Sandi Tshemese (Senior Schools Administrator and Mentor) followed. The parents showed appreciation for all of our speakers and were particularly vocal in their support of our Axium Alumni. Many of them expressed their gratitude to the Axium teachers: “Niyabancedisa abantwana bethu!”: “You all are helping our children!”
At the end of the day the parents and guardians were invited to attend our Bootcamp prize giving. For them it was a chance to see some of their children rewarded for the hard work this term.
Our goal is to now have a Parents’ Day for the incoming grade 10s. Getting families on board from the start could play a huge role in shaping our grade 10s’ experience in our program and hopefully ensuring that they receive the support they need from home.