An investigation into the social and cultural aspects of the home background of two contrasting social class groups of Indian primary school pupils in the Merebank area of Durban, and its implications for education.
Naicker, Subramunian Anand.
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Though the influence of social class and home background upon school achievement is a well established field of research in Britain and certain other oversea countries, research of this type is almost non-existent in South Africa. The present study was therefore designed as a sociological investigation of differential school performance to establish basic research in this field, with particular reference to home-school relationships in the Indian context. This study, which is set within the integrated theoretical framework of the old and new sociology of education, seeks to give some insight into the intricate nature of home background, and to shed some light on the complex relationship between social class and educational performance. In a review of pertinent literature in this field, it also traces the shift in emphasis from the more traditional, normative macro-studies of family, class and education to the more recent interpretative, micro-studies. Through the use of an eclectic approach, the empirical design incorporated both the normative and interpretative paradigms which aimed at studying the social and cultural aspects of the home background of two contrasting social class groups of pupils in six primary schools in the Merebank area of Durban. The proportionately stratified random sample consisting of 50 middle class and 100 lower working class pupils was representative of the social class structure of this neighbourhood. The home environment of each child in the entire sample was assessed during a personal visit to his home. The four main dimensions of the home which were investigated included: the material environment; general cultural and educational experiences; educational motivations and aspirations of parents; and family size. The pupils' cumulative school performance was assessed by scaling their composite examination results into standard scores which enabled marks from different schools and from different classes within the same school to be compared. This general educational performance is the criterion with which the various social and cultural factors have been related. The results of this study were analysed mainly through the use of chi-square, z tests of significance, analyses of variance, and correlation analyses. The main findings indicate that: (a) the general educational performance of the middle class pupils is consistently better than that of the lower working class pupils; (b) the two most important dimensions of the home which emphasise the greatest social class differences between the two groups, and which account for the most amount of variation in school performance are the general cultural and educational experiences, and the educational motivations and aspirations of patents. To achieve equality of opportunity for all pupils, this study recommends a broad policy of linking home and school through effective joint educational and social reform. This policy aims at improving the quality of life both at home and at school. In particular, it stresses the importance of increasing the educational awareness of the home, and of developing social consciousness in schools.