14 SES 04 B, Policies and Action Related to Cooperation – Home-School-Community Links III
Parallel Paper Session
Parental involvement in school has been the subject of extensive research across Europe and North America, leading to a vast number of publications and becoming ‘one of the centerpieces of educational dialogue among educators, parents and political leaders’ (Jeynes 2011, 73). In a range of countries, specific strategies are being put into place, as parental involvement is viewed as a key way to improve children’s educational outcomes (Hornby 2011). The benefits of parental involvement have been shown with respect to achievement, attendance, attitudes towards schooling, homework completion, lower drop-out rates and higher levels of social skills (Smith et al., 2011), with recent work therefore focusing on those barriers preventing effective parental engagement (for example, Hornby and Lafaele (2011), Ogilvie Stalker et al (2011).
This field of research, however, is dominated by studies from Europe and the United States. Such research takes place in contexts which are often quite different from those of Sub-Saharan Africa, yet nevertheless can and does inform those situations. Jeynes (2011), for example, having brought together findings from a breadth of research studies on parental involvement, asserts that the more subtle aspects of family support, such as parental style and expectations, have a greater impact on students’ educational outcomes than some of the more demonstrative aspects of parental involvement. Questions are raised, then, about the nature of those ‘subtle aspects’ of family support (or lack of support) in more challenging environments of economic and social hardship, such as those which exist for so many of the schools in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This paper focuses on parental involvement in primary schooling in eight schools serving catchments where the majority of families live in extreme poverty, where educational qualifications among parents are very low and where child fostering is common (Isiugo-Abanihe, 1985), due in particular to orphanhood resulting from HIV/AIDS (Ainsworth and Filmer, 2006). Here, as Lloyd and Blanc (1996) point out, family and household circumstances are important in determining not only a child’s progress, but he or she actually attends school at all. The specific research questions addressed by the paper are therefore as follows:
- What are the ‘subtle aspects’ of parental involvement that support children’s participation in formal education?
- What are the barriers that stand in the way of parental involvement in schooling?
- How can schools in challenging circumstances mediate effectively between home and school?
The research discussed here is drawn from a three-year study in thirty-two schools from four case studies in each of Kenya and Uganda. The project, entitled ‘What keeps girls in school against the odds?’, is funded by the Commonwealth Education Trust. In essence, it explores the cultural, economic and social factors affecting enrolment, attendance and retention in primary school and transition to secondary school, together with the influence of family background, community, school and peers. Whilst primarily focusing on girls, the study has also gathered data from boys, teachers, headteachers and district education officers, as well as tracking small groups of girls through three years of schooling.
Ainsworth, M., and Filmer, D. 2006. Inequalities in children’s schooling: AIDS, orphanhood, poverty and gender. World Development 34, no.6: 1099-1128. Hornby, G. 2011. Parental involvement in childhood education: Building effective school-family partnerships. New York: Springer. Hornby, G. and Lafaele, R. 2011. Barriers to parental involvement in education: an explanatory model. Educational Review 63, no. 1: 37-52. Isiugo-Abanihe, U.C. 1985. Child fostering in West Africa. Population and Development Review 11, no. 1: 53-73. Jeynes, W. 2011. Parental involvement and academic success. New York: Routledge. Lloyd, C.B. and Blanc, A.K. 1996. Children's schooling in sub-Saharan Africa: The role of fathers, mothers, and others. Population and Development Review 22, no. 2: 265-298. Ogilvie Stalker, Brunner, K., R., Maguire, R. and Mitchell, J. 2011. Tackling the barriers to disabled parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Educational Review 63, no. 2: 233-250. Smith, J., Wohlstetter, P. , Kuzin, C.A. and De Pedro, V. 2011. Parent involvement in urban charter schools: New strategies for increasing participation. The School Community Journal 21, no. 1: 71-94.
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