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Parental Attitude and Involvement in Education – Discussion Points for Eritrean Parents

Parental attitude and involvement in education plays an important role in a student's success - Photo: Eritrean mother with her daughter

Parental Attitude and Involvement in Education – Discussion Points for Eritrean Parents

In his words, the dumbest child in his class, Ben Carson in less than two years came to be top of his class thanks to his mother’s determination and persistence. To the surprise of his classmates, the annoyance of a racist teacher, and the joy of his mother, he came top of his class in Grade 7. Later, Ben Carson, the class ‘Dummy,’ studied neurosurgery and successfully performed the first surgery in history carried out to separate conjoined twins joined at the head (

In recognition of his contribution to his fellow Americans, Dr. Ben Carson received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefitting the Disadvantaged in 2000. In 2008, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom the greatest honour conferred on any civilian in the United States. Two years later, Dr. Carson was elected into National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. So far Dr. Carson has received 38 honorary doctorate degrees and citations. In addition, he is a member of the American Academy of Achievement and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans (  

In an interview, Dr. Ben credits his success to his mother and a few of his teachers, who helped him along the away. But, much of the credit goes to his mother.

My mother was a person who would never accept an excuse from my brother or myself. It didn't matter what the situation was. If you came with an excuse, she would always say, "Do you have a brain?" And if the answer was yes, then you had a way to get around it. Maybe you should use the brain. That was her point. After a while it became clear to us that no excuse was acceptable, so we became pretty creative. (

A single mother with a third-grade education, Mrs. Carson helped her hopeless child turn a new leaf in his academic life the day she told him and his brother to visit the local library, read two books a week and submit book reports to her just as they did at school. Not wanting to live on welfare and surrender the control of her life, she didn’t give up despite her hard life. Instead, to raise Ben and his older brother the best way she saw fit, she worked as a domestic juggling two or three jobs.

Student success in education depends on many factors, parental involvement being one. It is true teachers do contribute to their pupils’ success at school. It is also true that schools play a significant role in their students’ success. Similarly, the funding schools have also may determine if a school, and in turn, its pupils, will succeed or fail.

Parental involvement may not be as powerful as other factors. However, its contribution to children’s success cannot be underestimated. It is true it has only an enabling and enhancing capacity and doesn’t necessarily by itself create the conditions for students’ academic success. However, this doesn’t mean parents do not heavily influence their children. It only means that children’s school success may also happen despite the absence of parental involvement, which happens rarely.

In ‘The Learning Gap,’ Stevenson and Sigler examined what the common phenomena in our days: i.e. why Asian students outshine their American counterparts in Science and Mathematics. To identify the causes, the authors observed Japanese, Taiwanese, and American teachers teaching Grade 5 classes in Taipei(Taiwan), Sendai (Japan),Minneapolis (USA). In addition, they interviewed Japanese and American mothers.

The authors found that parents’ beliefs about success, intelligence, hard work and other factors influenced or affected the children’s performances significantly.

“No matter how we asked the questions or to whom we directed them, the answers were consistent,” the two psychologists state [writeKenneth G Wilson and Bennett Davies in ‘Redesigning Education’ quoting Stevenson and Sigler]. “Americans were more likely to assign greater importance to innate ability than were Chinese and Japanese. To test that conclusion, later in their work the researchers posed the same mathematical problem to classes of Japanese and American children. The problem was literally impossible, one having no solution. American children gave up after a while, but most Japanese children couldn’t be persuaded to stop hunting for the answer. This contrast in their efforts illustrates a significant difference between Japanese and American attitudes. Japanese children, taught that effort will bring success, have a natural incentive to pursue problems to a correct solution. American children, taught that natural ability is the key to academic success, seem to believe that “either you get it or you don’t….” (page 120)

Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell, in his international bestseller, ‘Outliers’ attributes Chinese students’ success at school to Chinese culture, and specifically, to their attitude and belief about success, perseverance, and hard work and comes to the same conclusion.

Citing ErlingBoe, an educational researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Gladwell argues people’s culture determines their success or failure.

Think about this another way. Imagine that every year, there was a Math Olympics in some fabulous city in the world. And every country in the world sent its own team of one thousand eighth graders. Boe’s point is that we could predict precisely the order in which every country would finish in the Math Olympics without asking a single math question. All we would have to do is give them some task measuring how hard they were willing to work. In fact, we wouldn’t even have to give them a task. We should be able to predict which countries are best at math simply by looking which national cultures place the highest emphasis on effort and hard work (page 290).

Comparing Asian students and white American students, a report (written by Amy Hsin of Queens College in New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan) concluded that the former outperformed their wealthier American counterparts. The report concludes:

"Asian and Asian American youth are harder working because of cultural beliefs that emphasize the strong connection between effort and achievement," the authors wrote [the Los Angeles Times reports recently]. "Studies show that Asian and Asian American students tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that can be developed through effort, whereas white Americans tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that are inborn" (

Eritrean Parents who possess such knowledge can make a lot of difference in their children’s lives. First, such knowledge is liberating in the sense that it dispels the attitude that luck, native ability, or smartness play a crucial role in children’s achievement. Instead,they are convinced by the idea that that hard work determines success. Knowing this, they equip their children with this powerful attitude, which will serve their children well at school and,later, outside school, in the world of work.

Secondly, Eritrean parents may help their children understand the importance of education through their involvement. They can do so through modeling, direct instruction and/or reinforcement. Children benefit a lot from the examples their parents set before them. Parents who value education often influence their children to have similar attitudes about it. Similarly, children do benefit from direct instruction by parents. Parents often help their children with their homework, which enables them to do well at school. If children are encouraged, they do better at school than when they are not motivated.

Thirdly, Eritrean parents have their culture on their side as they encourage their children to work hard at school. Due to their economic reality, Eritrean families especially farmers work very hard to earn their living. The children of these families are no strangers to hard work, which they can turn to their benefit. Parents can set their life as good example and motivate their children to do their best at school.  

Abrahaley Habte

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Parental Attitude and Involvement in Education – Discussion Points for Eritrean Parents Reviewed by Admin on 11:54 AM Rating: 5


  1. Knowledge is power.October 26, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Really appreciate this article, with persistence and training it is possible to achieve what one set in their life of course the support from family specially mothers play a crucial part..Dr.Carson what an inspirational figure I read "the healing hands" some years ago and what a story! The writer chose a good example...I Might add...Dr.Carson the student used to say "my father pays" to his rich friends at a school where only the rich attends the "father" being God/Allah not knowing the student believed that he has a rich inspired...pursue ....persist....achieve deli Ere..

  2. I'm a 22 years old Eritrean in the U.S. completing my last year of college to launch an Import/Export trading company after learning that I only have 20-30% chance of landing a job with my degree. I read a book titled Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It changed my life. From how I think about money, attitude, determination and success.

    An import area of education is financial literacy. Weather your U.S. Europe or even Eritrea, Africa. We need to train our young minds the importance of money management and personal financial independence.

    It's amounts to a great chunk of our lives and well being. In our culture, it's a taboo to discuss money matters and business opportunities. But when you look at the Jewish, Asian and even some Nigerians, they get down to business and creating strong generational wealth and lifting they're communities.

    I'm a very strong believer in economic prosperity. Something that was never taught to me by my parents and the school system. We need to change this. Eritreans need to promote success and mint new entrepreneurs. There is so many ways to do this.

    If you look at our country's political ideology - self reliance, self determination, that in itself is a entrepreneurial trait. We can produce so much successful people in a very small country by shifting they're attitude towards economic prosperity and development by solving local problems and challenges.

    My conclusion: Instead of just preaching to just go to school, get a job and work for some company for 30-40 years. Give our children to dream again, take ownership in our work, build assets, own a business, take charge of they're lives and happiness.

    Let's make it HAPPEN!

  3. Yes , in the abstract education is necessary but in the real world:
    First, it may be impossible to get it.
    Secondly, even if gotten, it may be impossible to put it in practice.
    Thirdly, the knowledge gotten may be used for evil purpose by evil people.
    Fourth, those who concentrate political power in their hands through evils means may use deceptively the importance of "education" to create the appearance of interest on the people they subjugate.
    All the above are manifest in Eritrea. The con artist isaias afeweerqi and his cabals closed down the single University in Eritrea, The Asmera University, more than a decade ago and opened scattered shanty rural colleges.
    One may ask Why did the con artist and impostor closed down Asmera University and instead opened scattered shanty colleges?
    University is a beacon of light where young and old students gain knowledge and from which political consciousness and other knowledge of all sort flow to the population at large. On the other hand, University students are potent critics of the deficiencies of the government.
    Now, it is clear why the con artist isaias afeweerqi and his cabals did what they did. They wanted to keep the people in the dark as they embarked on their systematical disintegration the country and the people.
    The con artist isaias afeweerqi and his cabals have been the sole source of disinformation in the country through the so called Hadas Eritrea and EriTv, which they ironically and deceptively labeled as " Serving the Truth.
    However, we must also remember the Asmera University was not their only casualty, the local and international news media and NGOs, the ratified Constitution and country's Congress ( Baito) were also shut down along with the incarceration of the veteran EPLF officials. The grand scheme was the same, to keep our people and international community in the dark of their vicious Genocidal activities.
    The con artist isaias afeweerqi was the first from African leaders to lend support to ex-president Bush in his invasion of Iraq. Of course, a naked liar that he always is, he subsequently denied that. But it was during the invasion that among others,he illegally incarcerated all the veteran EPLF officials.
    The con artist, by supporting the Iraq invasion, tried to court ex-President Bush to become his fait accompli in his Genocide scheme but of course in vain.
    My Genuine Eritreans,
    Wake Up and Join us to remove the rascal once and for all.

  4. Hey man why don't you quit your irrelevant rants and do something constructive in your life. The article has nothing to do with what you are saying and all your opening comments are wrong. In the abstract? What are you on about? Education equals knowledge ..equals altering behaviour for good...If a person has personal agenda or belief then it is theirs. If me and you received the same level of schooling depending on capacity determined by a range of factors such as environment, family etc we fare more or less the Same but what political domination you fancy is your choice including GoE but your epic PIA rant is just that rant!

    PS. We are discussing the importance of or the role of parents in children's success in education. Wake up and smell the berbere

  5. He does that in every topic. For some Ethiopian trolls, it doesn't matter what the topic is, it can be quantum physics, and they will come in to talk about Isaias Afwerki. Btw, he's now banned!

  6. Love the attitude, bro!

  7. Hi EriExec, all the funny side of your story, aside; I hope you are not intending to open import/export in Eritrea or your company will have anything to do with Eritrea. Otherwise you will taste the bitter truth of the selfish pfdj's attitude in destroying anything and everything leading to success. This was the fate of all those who came before you and left in disgrace. At your young age :)- I wouldn't want you to taste that ugly truth of pfdj junta and the hynas surrounding it. Yours, From the beautiful but sad city of Asmara, Eritrea.


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