ERG SES G 09, Communities and Education
Aims of the research:
- To develop an understanding of the life complexities of first generation learners from the children’s perspective.
- To investigate the links between academic achievement and social status.
- To reflect on the relationship between personal, family and academic factors that account for underachievement at school.
- To consider factors that might influence future school improvement programmes.
My research questions aims to answer the following questions:
1) Do first generation learners need additional support and if so what form might this take?
2) What influences do the socio –economic factors have on the educational achievement of these children?
3) What methods are adopted to meet the educational needs of these children?
4) How successful are these?
5) What are the student’s views and suggestions for challenging drop out from school?
Justification and relevance of the topic within the wider field with reference to prior literature:
Education is key to reducing poverty and inequality. Although some headway has been achieved in providing education for all children, challenges persist (World Bank, 2006). A gap remains between enrolment and completion rates, especially for children from the poorest households and marginalized groups (EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2014). Developing theory becomes important for analysing governmental policies aimed at reducing these inequalities. The research is informed by the Capability Approach (1993) applied to analyse and measure the quality of education. This theory when used in educational setting enables us to look beyond the economic value of education and also beyond education as a human right (Unterhalter, 2007).
Many children from rural communities in India seeking an education are first generation learners, defined as learners who come from a family background with no previous access to formal education (Banerjee., Cole., Duflo, and Linden 2007). This issue is recognised by the Ministry of Education report-‘The Challenge of Education’ (2006) which said, “It seems essential to juxtapose the scenario of the education system against the internal dynamics of a society in which 64% of the population is illiterate and a large percentage of students are first generation learners”(p.91).
Despite recommendations for research in this area few studies have been conducted. Previous studies have shown that attainment is the primary area in which disparity between first generation and successive generation learners can be observed. The parents of these children have no formal education at any level, which leaves them at a disadvantage when supporting their children as a significant part of their educational process occurs at home. It is possibly, this cohort of children who turn out to be the largest number of dropouts at all levels of education. (Dreze, 1999).
Historically in India, class was determined by the caste system, based on family structures. This system of socially approved discrimination against communities considered lower or outside the caste system has had a big influence on the literary and learning achievements of individuals. According to Dreze and Sen (2002) this social background is relevant to the elementary education of children in India. Evidence from Ramchandran's (2003) study show that there is a high level of parental illiteracy among these groups and some children face poor treatment in schools and discriminatory practices. These factors play a major part in poor performance and drop out rates in rural schools.
To improve and universalize the quality of elementary education, the Indian government launched a programme called 'Sarva Skiksha Abhiyan' in 2001. Many Indian States, often in partnership with NGOs have endeavoured to respond to the demands of this legislation. Despite these efforts, universalization remains unattainable because of unrelenting poverty and entrenched prejudices in Indian society.
Banerjee, A., Cole,S., Duflo, E, & Linden, L. (2007) Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India. The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 122 (3): 1235-1264. Ministry of Education (1985), "Challenge of Education: A policy perspective." New Delhi: Government of India: 91. Print. Cresswell.J. (2012), Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design:Choosing Among Five Approaches. London: Sage , Dreze,J, and Sen.A. (1997) Indian development: selected regional perspectives. Delhi: Oxford Univ Press. Dreze. J, (1999), Public Report on Basic Education in India. New York: Oxford University Press, Dreze, J. and Sen, A. (2002), India: Development and Participation’ 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press. Education Report: A profile of Basic Education, New Delhi: Oxford University press, 2006. Nussbaum .M. and Sen. A. (eds.) (1993) ‘Capability and Well-being’, The Quality of Life, Oxford: Clarendon Press, O'Kane, C. (2000), The Development of Participatory Techniques facilitating Children's Views About Decisions Which Affect Them. In Christensen, P. & James, A. ed. London: Falmer Press, Ramachandran, Vimala, and Kameshwari Jandhyala. (2003), Through the life cycle of children: factors that facilitate/impede successful primary school completion. Delhi: Education Resource Unit, UNESCO (2015), Education for All- Global Monitoring Report.. Paris: UNESCO Unterhalter, E. (2005) ‘Global inequality, capabilities, social justice and the Millennium Development Goal for Gender equality in education’, Journal of Education Policy, 21(2), 163-185. The World Bank, (2006), The World Bank Annual Report 2006. Washington, D.C: World Bank
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