ENNHANCING PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AT A SCHOOL TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
(A FRAGMENT FROM THE ARTICLE)
This chapter will focus on information supporting the strategy that will enhance parental involvement. We will review literature on parental involvement from different countries. The study will focus on literature from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia. It will be determined if there is a need for parental involvement. The study will compare SA and other countries on this need.
In the South African educational literature and educational research, the influence of the home and family environment on school achievement has not received the attention it deserves. Although the South African Schools Act creates expectations for parents to be active parents in school governance, our research shows that they are not all participating meaningfully in their children’s education. The idea of partnerships in educational situation is of particular importance in the interrelationship between family, community and the school. In its code of conduct, the South African Council for educators stipulates that teachers should recognize parents as partners in education (Mestry & Grobbler, 2007:176/7).
Raborife, (2009: 2) in July (1999), the minister of education announced a national mobilization plan for educating and training in South Africa under slogan “tirisano”, translated as “working together” (Department of Education, 1999:6). Priority three of a nine-point programme set out by the minister was entitled: schools must become centers of community life. In another move the Department of Education published its Norms and standards for Educators, in which seven roles for educators were set out (RSA, 2000b:12-25). The role entitled: community, citizenship, and pastoral role, including the following: the educator will develop supportive relations with parents and other key persons and organizations based on critical understanding of community and environmental issues” (RSA: 2000:14). The concept of school and family relations is further emphasized by policies such as the South African School Act (1996), which clearly accords parents a stake in matters pertaining to school governance and partnering the schools in the education of children. Also, white paper (inclusion policy) has as one of its principles, a community approach to supporting learners in attaining academic success. This entails the collaboration of all stakeholders, including parents. Clearly the exposition of recent changes in the South African education system indicates that the government is committed to making school and family collaborations a central element within the education system, but it has provided a great challenge to both educators and family members (in the entire community) to revamp their ways of working with each other (Ellis& Hughes, 2002:22). It is clear that partnership between the school and family is an essential element of learners’ success, in the sense that it leads to improved school marks (Henderson and Berla, 2004), better behavior (Epstein, 2001), higher self-concept (Friend and Cook, 2003) and more positive attitudes towards school, learning and school attendance (Christenson and Sheridan, 2001). However such a relationship does not develop easily in all communities. For example, schools located in informal settlements, find that collaboration between parents and school remains a challenge, with parents and families leaving the responsibility for educating learners solely in the hands of the educator, and educators appearing not to be concerned by working in isolation from families. The problem is that this gap between schools and families is left to widen, children will lose two most important sources of support and school related problems will result.
The literature from Ghana was also used and it confirms similar situation to South Africa concerning the need for parental involvement. Dampson, et al, (2010:1) in Ghana, traditionally parental involvement in education included contribution to their children’s home-based activities, (helping with homework, encouraging children to read, and promoting school attendance) and school-based activities, (attending parent-teachers’ association meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and participating in fund raising activities). Hixson (2006) explained that involvement of parents and families in decision making is often cited as one of the most important ways to improve public schools.
Bons, J.O. (2011: 2-3). The family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. When we look at our Ghanaian situation today, we notice that some of the factors affecting involvement are to be traced to the homes of the students. Some well-to-do parents spoil their children, providing them with their every wish. Some parents give their children too much money to take to. There are also poor parents who are unable to give their children the basic things they need to the pilfering of things belonging from rich homes.
The study also reviewed literature from Nigeria, where the need for parental involvement from the literature indicates similar situation to South Africa. Boakye, B.C. (2011: 1) in Nigeria parents have been urged to show keen interest and actively participate in the education of their children as only a “home-school partnership” can nurture a well rounded and highly motivated personality. The founder and general Overseer of the Divine Grace Temple, Bishop Charles K. Boakye who gave the advise emphasized that parents must not only pay their children’s fees but must go a step further by showing keen interest in their children’s studies at home.
Omoteso, (2010: 254) the first place of contact for most children as soon as they are born into the world is the family at this time exerts a lot of influence on the child. It is from parents and the significant others that the child acquires his initial training. So, basically, the home is where most learning begins and parents are the first and important educators of their children. In Nigeria, many parents don’t have time for their children because of the economic down turn in the nation. Both fathers and mothers now engage in jobs and businesses unlike in the past, when the mothers did not have work but stayed at home to take care of their total welfare. The trend now is for working mothers to take their babies to school where there are day care facilities about six weeks after birth of the babies.
In Nigeria, many parents do not realize that roles are important in school and both practitioners and policy makers do not know how they can involve parents (Adeyemo, 2005). All over the world, it is increasingly recognizing that the close link between the home and school is considered as an essential factor in facilitating educational improvement and inculcating life literacy skills.
The child’s first place of contact with the world is the family. The child, as a result, acquires initial education and socialization from parents and other significant persons in the family. The parents are in short, the child’s first teacher. They are the first and primary source of social support for young children. In the African setting, the responsibility for raising a child is a collective one. When parents are involved in the education of their children, children tend to model their parents’ attitude and actions. Suffice it to say that parents exert profound influence on every aspect of a child’s life.
Previous research work has made evidence of the positive impact of parental involvement on academic achievement. The major focus of the present study was to find out if parental involvement together with interest in schooling and school environment could predict academic self-efficacy (Adeyemo, 2005: 165-176).
Oyesojl, et al (2011:3) on parental involvement and academic achievement, studies have shown to date that the two constructs seems to be positively related. Findings have demonstrated that parents’ involvement in the education of the children has been found to be of benefit to parents; learners and schools (Tella 2003; Campbell, 1995; Rich, 1987). The importance of parental involvement on academic performance cannot be overemphasized. When the relationship between the parents and the school is strong the academic achievement is higher Oyesojl, et al (2011:4).
Oyebola & Lukman, (2010:22) further studies on parental involvement and academic achievement have shown to date that the two constructs seem to be positively related. Findings have demonstrated that parental involvement in the education of the children has been found to be of benefit to parents, children and school (Tella& Tella, 2003; Campbell, 1995; Rich, 1987).
Ransinki and Frederick (1988) reported that parents play an invaluable role in laying the foundation for their children learning. Zang and Carrasquillo (1985) also similarly remarked that when children are surrounded by caring, capable parents and are able to enjoy nurturing and moderate competitive kingship, a foundation for literacy is built with no difficulty. Cotton and Wikelund (2005) ably capped it by asserting that the more intensively the parents are involved in their children learning, the more beneficial are the achievement effects. Thus, it is believed that when parents monitor homework, encourage participation in extra-curricular activities, are active in parents- teacher associations and help children develop plans for their future, children are more likely to respond and do well in school. Campbell (1995) observed that high levels of parents involvements in their children education result in higher students achievement; higher attendance levels; a decline in dropout rates; fewer disciplinary problems; and better students motivation, self esteem and behavior. Nevertheless, there is still a need to further investigate the relationship among emotional intelligence, parental involvement and student’s achievement in financial accounting at secondary level of education especially in country like Nigeria. Documentary evidence revealed students poor performance in Financial Accounting despite its laudable and well articulated objectives. The WAEC chief examiners report (2008) also showed students abysmal performance in the subject. The trends in students’ performance in the subject have been a source of concern to Business Educators about the future career of students offering the subject. The importance of parental involvement on academic performance cannot be over emphasized.
The need for parental involvement from Namibia was looked at by reviewing the literature from the country. This was done in comparison with South African situation. Erlendsdottir, (2010: 11) Namibia gained its independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990. At that time, there was no compulsory education in the country (Amukugo, 2002). Many children in rural areas either started schooling much later than at age seven, which was the Namibian school entering time of independence; there was a high rate of illiteracy in Namibia. Callewaert and kallos (in Amukugo 2002) investigated the enrolment t schools in the northern part of Namibia, where most African Namibians live. They concluded that in the year 1988, after four year in school, less that 50% of students who started school in the north remained in school. Research findings suggest that parents’ attitudes, along with their behavior and activities with regard to their children’s education, do affect academic achievement in a positive way (Hui-Chen Huang and Masson, 2008). According to Epstein (2009), ample research evidence suggests that most parents want their children to succeed in school and in order for them to be good partners in their children’s education; they yearn to obtain more information from schools. Likewise most students at all student levels, whether it is elementary school, middle school or high school level, want their families to be familiar and acquainted partners about schooling. The positive effects that parental involvement has on student’s academic achievement appear to be undeniable. Therefore, it should be a top priority for parents and schools to establish and maintain a strong partnership between schools and homes. Namibia gained its independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990. At that time there was no compulsory education in the country (Amukugo, 2002). Many children in rural areas either started schooling much later that age seven, which was the Namibia school entering age, or did not enroll in school at all. The consequence was that, at the time of independence there was a high rate of illiteracy in Namibia (Erlendsdottir, (2010: 13).
Many researchers recognize the important role a strong positive bond between homes and schools play in the development and education of children (sanders and Sheldon, 2009; Richardson, 2009; Sheldon, 2009; Edwards and Alldred, 2000; Henderson and Berla, 1994). Bryk and Schneider (in Sanders and Sheldon, 2009) maintain that school become successful when a strong and positive relationship among students, parents, teachers and the community has been established. All students are more likely to experience academic success if their home environment is supportive Sanders and Sheldon, 2009; Henderson and Berla, 1994. The benefit for student of a strong relationship between school and homes is basic on the development of trust between parents and teachers. According to Bryk and Schneider in Muscott et al., 2008, this trusting relationship occurs when teacher and parents respect one another and believe in the ability of the other person and his or her willingness to fulfill their responsibilities (Erlendsdottir, (2010: 19).
Eita, (2007: 2) also support the need for parental involvement in Namibia. Recent legislation as stipulated in the Namibian Education Act 16 of 2001 (Namibia, 2001: 33) which states that the parent of each child should be provided with regular reports in writing on the academic progress, general behavior and conduct of the learner and the code of conduct for the teaching service (Namibia, 2004:5) which states that a teacher in relation to parents and a community, must: recognize parents and the community at large as partners in education and promote good relationships with them, create effective communication channels between the school and the community and keep parents adequately and timorously informed about the well being and progress of their children has focused attention on the rights and responsibilities of parents as empowered stakeholders. In order for these government policies to be implemented successfully, research on parents as supporters of learning, needs to be carried out to help teachers to develop effective programmes.
Eita, (2007: 6) in the same vein, research in recent years has also revealed that parental involvement has a significant effect on the quality of the teaching and learning experiences and without cooperation between parent and teachers the child cannot be adequately educated (Kruger, 2002:45). Squelch and Lemmer (1994:93) mention that the benefits of parental involvement include improved school performance, reduced dropout rates, an increase in diligence and more positive attitudes towards the school. However, regardless of this positive trend in legislation and research findings, in practice parental involvement in homework is generally poor and in some cases, non- existent. This indicates that schools don’t always understand what parental involvement means (Van De Grift & Green, 1992: 57). According to Squelch & Lemmer, (1994: 93) there are still many barriers to overcome before parents can be regarded as equal partners Eita, (2007: 6).
In addition, the need for successful inclusion and involvement of parents in school activities in a variety of roles and areas is due in part to the compelling evidence that parental involvement has a positive effect on learner’s academic achievement and the many advantages of having parents as partners in the education of children. According to recent research (Pena, 2000:42), the primary factor for children’s success is parent interest and support. Thus, well- implemented school community practices yield positive results for the learners (Epstein, 1987: 110). Lemmer and Van Wyk (1998: 1) report that where families learn together, grades improve and children enjoy learning. Thus, supportive parent involvement can boost children’s homework efforts and effectiveness (Forgotch& Ramsey, 1994:474). Therefore, according to Hoover- Demsey and Sandler, (1995) and Balli, (1998: 142), when parents help children with homework they model their belief that educational pursuits are worthy of their time and efforts. Furthermore, when parents praise children for correctly completing homework, they reinforce the goal of education. When parents provide direct instruction drilling their children on homework problem and asking open-ended question, they promote factual learning and cognitive learning (Eita, 2007:2).