Education is a giant step forward to achieving sustainability. Education for sustainable development encompasses the three areas: the environment, society and the economy (Pace, 2010). ESD is meant to inculcate ideals and values about key sustainable issues such as poverty reduction, environment protection, human rights, democracy, and so on. The basic concept of ESD entails helping people to develop the right attitude and knowledge to facilitate decision-making and create a better future for themselves and others (UNESCO, 2011).
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In this regard, Parenting Programmes might help to orient both parents and children towards this new mind set. Contrary to popular belief, education begins at home. This is why parents should be the primary targets. Parsons (1959), states that the family is bounded by two irreducible functions which are the ‘primary socialization of children’ and ‘stabilization of adult personalities’ (Haralambos and Holborn, 2007). The quality of education a child receives will therefore be a determining factor to the type of adult he will develop into (Morawska et al, 2011).
Dealing with a child is no easy task. However, very often parents tend to forget that the parent-child relationship is a two-way street. As a matter of fact, many parents lack the proper coping and communication skills to deal with conflict situations. There are several organizations, also known as Parenting Programmes, to assist parents to cope with emotional, behavioural and social problems in their children (Morawska et al, 2011).
Research has indicated that children are very likely to face impaired educational development, adult mental health problems and even entry to crime, due to long-term consequences of these problems (Lindsay et al, 2008).
Evidence indicates that Parenting Programmes have indeed contributed towards helping adults to better integrate their roles as parents. Some examples of these parenting programmes are the Incredible Years, Triple P and Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities among others. The Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinder (PEIP) has shown great interest in the matter and funded 150 local authorities in England to deliver Parenting Programmes (Lindsay et al, 2008).
The Incredible Years Programme in the USA dealt mostly with parents with children having conduct problems. The Triple P in Australia was based on a five-level intervention basis and was more beneficial for parents having mental health problems and relationship problems, therefore with children at risk. Home interventions were frequently required. Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities was mainly designed for minority ethnic groups. Consequently, evidence indicated an increase in the level of activity, decrease in negative discipline and enhanced communication between parents and children (Lindsay et al, 2008).
Education for Sustainable Development aims at creating better citizens of tomorrow. Parents, therefore, as primary agents of socialization should be able to grasp the concept of ESD, so that they can in turn pass it on to their children. However, this would be more effective if children were taught to adopt sustainable lifestyle since birth itself.
Parenting programmes, termed as ‘Ecoles des Parents’ in Mauritius, is a rather new concept. However, there are many existing policies and laws put into place by the Government to provide security and welfare for the children, and also Ministries such as The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare and The Ministry of Education and Human Resources.
There are many alarming issues that led to considering the need for such a programme. Firstly, the family, as an institution, doesn’t stand as firmly as it did before, and with the increase in divorce rates, children often find themselves being brought up in broken homes. Moreover, degradation of family values has accentuated, and that adults are lesser involved in family activities but instead focus more on themselves. Juvenile Delinquency is yet another serious problem which is on the rise. This ranges from thefts, physical violence, and drug addiction to even rape. It is very common in households today, to see both parents working, sometimes even doing extra hours hence leaving a minimum amount of time to carry out family activities or simply have a conversation with the kids. Youngsters are nowadays lost in a virtual world, where social networks are the only means to communicate with what they call ‘friends’. Eventually, social life suffers and teenagers become ‘virtual beings’ where face-to-face interactions are becoming more and more scarce.
It is very important for parents to foster good relationships with their children. But parents cannot hope to do this when the child has already reached 16. This process starts right when the child is born. With so many problems on the rise, namely anti-social behaviour, juvenile delinquency, crime rate, teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, we can’t help but wonder: Have parents somehow failed to fulfill their roles?
A pilot project was set up at La Valette, Bambous, which is actually a ‘reconstituted’ village. Parents who attended the program were from poor regions of the island. The project ‘Ecole des Parents’ was launched in October 2010 under the supervision of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family (Anon, 2010), and is focused towards helping parents to develop the necessary coping and communication skills to deal with their children and also to encourage group discussion between parents. Since the program has been introduced only recently, it is very difficult to get proper feedback about its effectiveness.
Aims and Objectives
The aim of this study is to assess how the programme ‘Ecole des Parents’ enhances the lifestyle of its participants and promotes sustainable development within the locality through education.
The objectives of the study are listed below:
To produce a comprehensive literature Review
To assess how government promotes sustainable development through education
To determine the need for parenting programmes
To assess how ‘Ecole des Parents’ has changed the lives of the participants
To evaluate how ‘Ecole des Parents’ eventually benefits the community
To recommend measures which could improved the sustainability of the programme
What are the measures taken by the government to inculcate a sustainable lifestyle?
Are parents failing to fulfil their roles?
How far has the programme influenced family lives?
What are the impacts of such programmes in the area where it has been implemented?
What are the limitations of the programme and how we can tackle them?
Flow of dissertation:
Chapter 2: Literature Review
In chapter 2, we will firstly be reviewing sociological perspectives on parenting support and education; we will then move on to an overview about existing parenting programmes and its effectiveness. We will then look at sustainable development and the importance given to education in achieving sustainability. Finally we will look at the
Mauritian context, how and why ‘Ecole des Parents’ was introduced.
Chapter 3: Methodology
In this chapter, we will identify what method can be best used to conduct our study, what are the variables which need to be taken into account while designing our questionnaire. We will elaborate about our sampling method and how data will be collected.
Chapter 4: Results & Discussion
This chapter will include the analysis of our findings and a comprehensive discussion about the results obtained.
Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations
Finally, we will conclude by summarising our findings and provide recommendations on how the programme can be improved.
2.0 Literature Review
In order to explain the parent-child relationship, various theories have been used. Research has been conducted by dominant perspectives like social learning theory, attachment theory and parenting styles to understand parenting and the parent-child relationship (O’Connor and Scott, 2007).
The social learning theory is one of the most important models of the relationship between parents and children. Many theorists have used the social learning model in the way social conditions of parents may lead to poor child rearing. Robert Wahler (1965) conducted a programme which took into consideration the specific needs of lone mothers; he concluded that these mothers were more unpleasant with their children when others rejected them.
A child’s experience shapes his behaviour directly or indirectly. If the child is getting reward for his action, such as parental attention, he is most likely to repeat the behaviour while if the child is being punished, he is less likely to do the behaviour again.
Attachment theorists have established parenting relationships according to ethology, cognitive psychology and control systems. John Bowlby was interested on detecting the nature, impact and function of the child’s affiliation to his parent. This theory also focuses on important issues such as how far the relationship protects the child against harm and provides an emotional security.
Baumrind studied four typologies linked with the outcome of children: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful. Authoritative parents have children who were more decent and clever; those parents who were authoritarian, permissive and disengaged had lower results while authoritarian parents had the worst outcomes of the four child rearing types.
As such, having an insight of what have been said by sociologists and psychologists about the influence of parental support on the education of their children will enable us to analyse how parenting programmes really enhance relationship between parents and children; family life; education success or failure and also their influence on society. In the next part we will be discussing about parenting programmes and its various aspects.
‘Parenting’ is not a new concept, as many might believe. Society has had concerns about family life and children’s upbringing for very long. Unfortunately the realities of life at home, between parents and children, are not quite how we expect them to be. Parenting is undeniably an asset to shaping tomorrow’s adults, and through school the child is expected to grasp the concept of parenting and thus
become model parents of the next generation (Jenkinson, 1995). The idea of ‘School Parenting’ or Parenting Programs as it is known worldwide, might be the answer to the chaotic situation between parents and children.
We should firstly circle the facts that led to considering the need for such a program. The generation gap has been increasing due to several factors over the years. To start with, the family, as an institution, doesn’t stand as firmly as it did before. With the increase in divorce rates, children often find themselves being brought up in broken homes (Smith, 1970 – 1990). Moreover, U.S. Census data, shows that degradation of family values have accentuated since 1960, and that adults are lesser involved in family activities but instead focus more on themselves, leaving children to fend for themselves (Popenoe, 1993).
Another serious issue to be considered is that of Juvenile Delinquency. Due to weak social relations, youngsters nowadays are more vulnerable to temptation. Statistical analysis reveals that the rate of crime among youngsters has increased ranging from theft, drug addiction to physical violence. However, sociologists believe that, these form part of the process of growing up and that such behaviours fade when adulthood is reached, for most. More importantly, it should be noted that, children who have received appropriate parental guidance, are less prone to engaging in such damaging activities (World Youth Report, 2003).
With the advent of industrialization, both mothers and fathers have rushed to the big cities for jobs, supposedly for the betterment of the family and to secure the children’s future. Consequently, ‘squeezing in between jobs’ and spending quality time with the kids have become a major challenge (Moen, 1989).
The number of internet users, as at December 2011, was estimated to be 2, 267, 233, 742 (Internet World Stats, 2011). The internet, however, not only brought about positive changes to our lives, but also threats to our well-being. One such target nowadays is teenagers, who seem to associate more importance to virtual life than real life itself.
Social networking sites are a means for youngsters to re-invent themselves by broadening their contacts. On the hand, research indicated narcissistic tendencies, health problems such as anxiety and depression, and alienation from social life through overuse of social networks. Parents are therefore advised to engage in as much social activities as possible with their children. They need to encourage dialogue and also monitor the teenagers’ ventures on social networking sites, so as not to create ‘virtual teenagers’ (Rosen, 2011).
A Child’s socialization is crucial to determining what kind of individual he/she will eventually develop into. The socialization process is a means for the child to internalize appropriate norms, values and behaviours inculcated by the agents of socialization, namely the parents (Haralambos and Holborn, 2007). Therefore, parents as key agents should be given some kind of training so as to better understand what is really in the child’s interest. After all, the relationship goes both ways, where mutual understanding is the core to establishing fruitful interactions for both parties.
Types of parenting programmes
Parenting Programs are one such incentive, where the central aim is to help parents gain insight to potential behavioural and emotional difficulties that children encounter (Morawska, et al, 2010).
The Triple P-Positive Parenting Program is one such program, which starts with providing relevant information about parenting to parents, who are willing to cooperate. The Triple
P-Positive Program operates on a five level basis, and comprises of parents of new born babies to 16 year old teens. Level 1 consists of helping parents to detect minor behavioural problems, and is directed towards promoting the child’s development. Level 2 is mostly for parents with specific concerns about their child and they usually seek advice on how to tackle the problem. Level 3, is no different from level 2, but simply incorporates practice and self-evaluation sessions to deal with the problem in a more effective way. Level 4, however, gather parents whose children have more severe behaviour issues and may require health professionals. And finally level 5 includes home visits and intensive family interventions which are specific depending on the situation, for e.g. conflict between parents themselves, involving cases of depression (Sanders, et al, 2003).
The Triple P-Positive Program also demands that parents abide by a set of principles. To start with, children need to feel safe and free to explore, experiment and play. Under no circumstance should parents hamper the healthy, natural development of a child. As primary agents of socialization, parents should educate their children and also be open for questions and dialogue. Discipline is important and punishment should have a limit. Parents should establish rules but should also consider children’s opinion. Parents should allow children the freedom to choose their own path to fulfil their dreams, rather than imposing their desires and expectations. Finally parents should respect themselves, and foster good communication with one another, so as to create a stable and healthy home (Sanders, et al, 2003).
Other types of Parenting Programs include the ‘Incredible Years’ and the ‘Strengthening families strengthening communities’ Programs. The Incredible Years Program comprises of parents with children from 0 to 8 years. Like the Triple P program, Incredible Years help parents to gain better understanding of children’s behavioural problems. However, this program tackles the situation by encouraging parents to foster good relationships with one another, and by dealing with their own issues (Geoff Lindsay et al, 2011).
The Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities (SFSC), most particularly deals with small ethnic groups, but still the primary concern being helping parents develop effective coping skills. However, the program also covers the cultural and spiritual aspects of society, for example engaging in community activities, following traditions, etc … (Geoff Lindsay et al, 2011).
Parenting Programs are alternatives geared towards helping parents develop effective coping and communication skills. Parents are also more aware of children’s side of the story, and thus can look for collective solutions to misunderstandings through dialogue. These may seem to be quite simple, but the truth is many adults do not know their roles as parents, and how to tackle conflicts. This is where Parenting Programs come into the picture. Thus, having proved the importance of such programmes to family, children and society, we will now look at the role the state plays in promoting parenting programs.
The role of the state
One of the main aims of the government is undoubtedly the safety of the citizens. The state should cater for the physical safety of children and social crime prevention, i.e. ways to promote adequate child rearing and decrease the risk delinquency in children. It may be considered right to link it to aspects of communitarians as a reinforced community and family relations help to form a safety network that a society deprived of its ties cannot offer.
Safety of the citizens is probably the government’s most important responsibility; however an economically stable and balanced community is also of high importance. Here providing education and welfare benefits, easing work and acting to support the family unit as an economic system are involved. Leaving the protective measures behind, other impacts on our expectations of the role of government should be taken into consideration.
One of the most important is the Christohumanistic tradition that has guided the state and welfare organizations since years.
Societies depend on shared values. Shared values are passed on through children. Values won’t be passed on from one generation to the next unless they are reinforced by the parent child relationship. So parenting is a public – as well as intensely private – act. Hence society’s interest is in the parent-child relationship. Families are crucial to the survival and development of shared values. (Straw, 2000)
The government’s contribution to supporting a rights perspective is obvious in its introduction of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. There has been an effort to attain sexual parity at work furthermore there has been the promotion of a child’s perspective by setting up the Children and Young People’s Unit and effort to improve children participation in the service development.
Societal trends have shifted the state beyond preserving physical and financial safety to human centred, charitable caring and most importantly an increasingly modified and rights orientated relationship with families. Nowadays both parents and government are facing problems of having to regulate morality while having to abide an era of democratized relationships.
Review of parenting programmes
According to a study, by Roger Grimshaw and Christine McGuire (1998), group-based parenting programmes had a low public profile. Many parents found it interesting however they found it difficult to attend. Some thought that attending such a programme would mean being a bad parent. Those who were willing participate wished to go on a programme before their child turned 3 years old (Grimshaw and McGuire, 1998).
Around half of the parents who attended rated the advice helpful while the rest found it less interesting and an eighth found that it was not a good thing. Those parents who attended the parenting schooling were quite happy with it.
Concerning the style of the programme, parents found it important that the leader should be a parent. Instead of being told about what to do, they wanted to have options from which they could choose.
Both parents and organizations thought that programmes should lead to: benefits arising from group support, for instance a supportive network of friends; a better relationship with the children; greater information on issues such as child health and development; and emotional benefits.
The managers who set up the programmes and the coordinator had some common aims. However, managers were more prone to distinguish strategic objectives for the courses, for instance community development. Coordinators were more likely to get involved in the aims that had impacts on individual participants, like a rise in confidence.
Children who were interviewed had lucid perception of the responsibilities that parents had in protecting, guiding and instilling discipline in them.
Effectiveness of parenting programmes
Parent education helps to improve caring and positive child rearing which is crucial in creating a good atmosphere for children. The risk of child abuse is more when parents do not possess the necessary abilities, back up and knowledge of child development. School parenting helps to increase the knowledge of parents on the development of children, to guide them in developing parenting abilities and make them familiar with the difficulties involved with child rearing.
Parenting programmes takes place at different levels. For instance, community awareness strategies operate at the primary level; group training sessions and one-on-one programmes such as the triple P-Positive Parenting Programme operate at the secondary or tertiary level. However, all parenting programmes serve to increase parental knowledge and decrease stress. Parental schooling helps to reach these results by training parents’ behavioural management skills, ways to solve problems, and personal adaptation abilities.
Parenting programmes are important aspects of dealing with families which are at risk. Recent audits evaluated that progress has been made in areas like preventing child maltreatment.
Factors limiting the effectiveness of parent education
There are various factors that can limit the effectiveness of parenting programmes. Parenting beliefs often unconscious are difficult to change; parents may make us of same ways of parenting even if they have come across new skills. Furthermore, courses which are not intensive do not have the desired impact on both children and parents. Parents who have psychological problems or a drug or alcohol addiction may have difficulties to grasp new skills and build better relationships; the parents’ own development needs may be an obstacle in being able to participate fully in the programme (Holzer et al., 2006).
Cultural values, negative experiences with social service providers, language barriers, time commitment, scheduling issues, travel, and general lack of interest may reduce participation in parent education programs.
Parental depression, drug or alcohol addiction, low level of education, domestic violence, marital conflict, remarriage, harsh punishment on children may decrease the effectiveness of parenting programmes. Moreover, parents with low education and low income are less likely to believe that the can control their children’s development. Also, parents that are hassled about their environment, for example violent neighbours may be less prone to gain from parent schooling (Solutions for America, n.d.).
Limitations of parenting programmes
Although parenting programmes have proved to be an effective measure to help adults become better parents and ensure a better inclusion of children in society, they have several limitations. One of the major disadvantages of parenting programmes is that it is discriminating in nature, for instance for a programme which is aiming at ensuring the welfare of the family, the children and society in general; research have shown that while delivering the course to families in risky groups the programmes are excluding families from other background who are facing difficult issues with their children (Lindsay et al., 2011).
The second drawback, concerns ethnicity, some researches conducted in the United Kingdom have shown that attendance to parenting programmes vary greatly depending on the ethnicity of the parents (Patel et al., 2011). For example, the study conducted by Patel et al (2002) showed that out of eighty participants, 37.5% were white British, 18.8% were Pakistani, Asian and black British accounted each for 10% and other minority groups accounted for less than 10% each.
Thirdly, the high level of drop out from the programmes is another limitation. According to Lindsay et al. (2011), there are 17%-19% of participants who quit the programme due to socioeconomic issue or other problems. Therefore, the programmes need to take into account motivational factors which will stimulate candidate to pursue the course till the end.
Parenting programmes and sustainable development
All parenting programs do one thing in common, that is, improving the lifestyle of its citizens by providing the right skills to the people in order to shapes the future of the youths and improves their quality of life. From this perspective, we can clearly see that the aim of parenting programmes is closely linked to the four pillars of sustainable development. For instance, by providing parents the required tools to become better guides for their children and improving their relationship, such programs are ensuring that the latter will become good citizens for the welfare of society. Secondly, parenting programmes enables the moulding of future wealth producers by ensuring that future generations have the required environment to grow up as respectable and responsible adults. Thirdly, through such programmes both children and parents learn to respect people different from them that is, from other culture, religion and so on; they also learn to be respectful towards their environment and manage resources accordingly for a better lifestyle.
Sustainable development is a concept which has become popular during the 1970s and has been defined in various ways but the most recognised definition is from the Brundtland Report, (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987) stating “Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”. This definition highlights that when setting up new policies, governments need to take into account features such as, resources available, respect them and work towards protecting them so as to ensure that future generations could also benefit from them.
The terms sustainability and sustainable development is sometimes used interchangeably and although they seem vague in nature, they in fact consist of three main components, namely economic prosperity, social justice and environmental protection (GoodPlanet.info, 2008). The economics aspect involves the creation of employment, increasing production, income and wealth for everyone; and using new technologies to attain these objectives. The social component means that everyone should have access to justice, healthcare, participation in social activities, education and so on. Finally, the environmental component comprises good resource management and conservation (The Encyclopedia of Earth, 2011). Since the year 2000s, culture has been added as a fourth pillar to sustainability. With globalisation, the world has become a global village, as such for development to occur; governments need to take into consideration cultural diversity. In addition, cultural sustainability also implies the protection of cultural values, arts and heritage (Nurse, 2006). Below is a picture illustrating the four pillars of sustainable development and what are their aims (Just Focus, 2009).
Source: Just Focus, 2010, available at http://www.justfocus.org.nz/tag/education-and-training/
The concern about sustainable development started in 1962 with the publication of the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson which provided an insight of the relationships between the environment, the economy and the social well-being of people (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2002). However, sustainable development is said to have started with the declaration of human right in 1948 as it promoted universal rights for freedom of speech, belief and movement (Pesqueux, 2009). In addition, it is only in the 1970s that the concept gain popularity, with the focus being mainly on the environmental component due to the increase awareness about the depletion of our resources due to the growth of human population. This lead the creation of several movements such as Green Peace or Chipko movement in India; it lead to the organisation of several major conferences such as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, also known as the Earth Summit or the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 (Sustainable Development in Government, 2011).
Several agreements were reached during the Earth Summit, under the Agenda 21, pertaining to programmes leading to sustainable development in the twenty-first century (One World, 2012). Since then, awareness about our resources has been on the rise resulting in the emergence of new managerial concepts and responsible business practices, for example Corporate Social Responsibility which was adopted by business after the Enron case but also with changes in legislation. Furthermore, in line with the Rio summit, the Millennium Summit in 2000 lead leaders around the world to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration which consist of eight diverse goals, including eradication of poverty; universal primary education; combat HIV/AIDS among others, to be achieved by 2015 (The Encyclopedia of Earth, 2011). Therefore, it can be seen that sustainability can achieved through better health, alleviation of poverty or access to education; this leads us to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development which was proclaimed in 2002 as a programme which promote education as “an indispensable element for achieving sustainable development” (DESD, 2002).
Education for sustainable development
As said above, the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014 was launched in 2002 by the United Nations. It is a programme which is under the supervision of the UNESCO and whose target is to provide quality education for all, inculcate values, beliefs and behaviour for a better and sustainable future (DESD, n.d). However, the concept of using education to achieve sustainability was introduced much before, for instance as Pace (2010) mentioned, during the Tbilisi Conference in 1977, environmental education was proposed as a framework for sustainability. Both frameworks are quite similar except that the environmental education was more focus on the preservation of our resources whereas the DESD is a global approach aiming at achieving various issues such as alleviating poverty or disaster risk reduction (UNESCO, n.d.). At the Rio