The role of parents as partners in the education process : a case study at a primary school in Isipingo.
The increasing level of interest in parental involvement policy and practice in South African education has evoked many questions. Some of them are: What do we really know about the impact of parental involvement on children’s academic progress? What research has already been undertaken to support or refute the argument that parents play an important role as partners in the education process? What level of parental involvement are we talking about? And why are parents not adequately involved in their children’s education? From the research evidence studied, both Epstein (1997) and Bronfenbrenner (1986) draw convincing conclusions about the positive effects of parental involvement on learners’ scholastic performance. Against this background, the study investigated parents’ understanding of parental involvement. Furthermore, it sought to identify challenges and barriers impacting on parental involvement and to find possible ways to overcome these barriers. To achieve these objectives, a qualitative research approach was used. Data production methods included interviews and questionnaires. Nine participants were interviewed. Questionnaires consisting of thirteen questions were administered to all participants. Their responses were transcribed and analysed. The study revealed that time constraints, illiteracy, lack of communication between home and school and poverty are among other contributing factors to lack of parental involvement in the school under study. Parental involvement, according to this study is greater amongst parents who are teachers than other parents. Other parents seem to be more involved in the communication about school rather than the actual school activities. This level of involvement is clearly insufficient to influence the learner’s scholastic performance in a positive manner. The results of this study concede with the claims made by both Epstein (1997) and Bronfenbrenner (1996) that parents are indeed important partners in education.