Parental involvement in education : a comparison between a privileged and underprivileged school.
This study compared parental involvement in privileged and underprivileged schools in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal. The objectives of the study were to determine what are the similarities and differences in parental involvement between privileged and underprivileged schools and why they do exist. The theory guiding the study was Epstein’s Theory of Overlapping Spheres. The study followed a qualitative research approach and operated within an interpretivist paradigm. A multiple case design was used. The studied schools were drawn from two contexts, privileged and underprivileged, both located in Phoenix. The methodology employed to generate data was a semi-structured interview, followed by an open-ended questionnaire that was given to participants. The sample of participants comprised of three parents and three teachers from each of the two schools. The data were analysed using thematic analysis. The findings show that there are parents from both privileged and underprivileged communities who are concerned and employ a variety of strategies to get involved in their children’s education, both academically and socially. Although parents from both schools participate in school events the levels of their participation differs, with the parents from the privileged schools being more involved than parents from the underprivileged school. Parental involvement is influenced by many ecological factors which may enable or constrain parental involvement in schools. The factors that enable parental involvement are: parents’ roles and responsibilities, parents’ aspirations and expectations, the nature and adequacy of communication and school leadership and support. The results show that there are a diversity of factors that hamper parental involvement in education such as the working conditions of parents, being a single parent, the absence of parents, socio-economic factors and the school leadership. This study shows that despite it being low, parents in both privileged and underprivileged schools do display involvement and the factors which enable and constrain their involvement must be taken into account. Parental involvement thus cannot be considered a universal context, as each context varies.