Parental involvement in enhancing learner achievement : case studies of three rural primary schools in KwaZulu-Natal.
This study investigated the extent of the involvement of parents / care givers from rural primary schools in the school lives of their children in order to ascertain whether their involvement enhanced learner achievement. In a rural context, the value attached to education has evolved over the years and has resulted in rural communities striving to secure a quality education for their children. The study was underpinned by three theories. The first was Epstein’s (1997) integrated theory of family-school relations which are characterized by a set of overlapping spheres of influence. The second theory used was Coleman’s (1988) seminal theory of family and community capital. The theory involves the support schools expect from parents; this support includes financial capital, human capital and social capital. Lastly, Burge’s theory of rurality was alluded to. This theory depicts rurality as a sense of place linked with the fact that the study focused on rural schools. A qualitative approach was used and entailed interviews with rural primary school principals, educators, School Governing Body (SGB) chairpersons as well as parent and learner focus groups. School documents were reviewed to establish the provision schools made to allow for parent involvement and the outcomes thereof. Observations were conducted which set out to determine the actual role parents played at the schools. Related literature was perused and an empirical investigation was conducted to determine parents’ role in enhancing learner performance. One of the basic rights of children is the right to a quality education. According to van Wyk and Lemmer (2009, p. 12), parents want the best for their children in schooling, as in everything else. This means a high quality, broad education in a caring, effective and well run institution. The outcomes of parental support were alluded to and factors that hindered parental support were highlighted. Some of the key findings were that schools were in need of parental support and that parents were aware of the schools’ needs. Some parents supported their schools amid challenges. Where parents provided support, learner performance was enhanced. However, it emerged that most parents were unable to provide support as they spent most of their time eking out a livelihood in order to care for their families. Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, the lack of skills and the fact that many rural parents were single parents or aged grandparents were further challenges. Moreover, poor communication between the school and parents, the lack of social services and support structures exacerbated the plight of rural parents. Some key recommendations that parents should play a more active role in the schools through effective communication and a collaborative working relationship. The Department of Basic Education needs to provide adequate resources, improve facilities, and intensify the drive to eradicate adult illiteracy. They need to review the Post Provisioning Norm (PPN) to help withstand the challenges that rural schools encounter and developed strategies to attract and retain qualified educators. The conclusions and recommendations provided will assist schools and the Department of Basic Education in improving the teaching and learning environment in rural schools. Moreover, when stakeholders provide resources and encourage parents to be meaningfully involved in the education of their children, things will start to happen.