EDUCATION AND PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN KENYA

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CHAPTER 2 THEORIES AND THE PRACTICE OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

INTRODUCTION

The concept of ‘democratic participation’ of stakeh olders in the education of children has always been a continuous tag in educational policy as a central purpose in educational transformation, especially with the parents (Naidoo, 2005:28). Various nations have given parents an enlarged role in governing schools as a result (Lemmer, 2007:218). Zelman and Waterman (1998:370) and Monadjem (2003: 22) observe that parents globally typically only assist with homework, help in correcting discipline, pay school levies and visit schools during the times set by teachers as their role in school governance.
Because of this, Naidoo (2005:28) suggests that parents should play a more dynamic role in their children’s education because teachers, pupils and the parents themselves gain from increased parental involvement and this could alleviate some of the problems faced by communities facing difficulties tackling children’s material, emotional and learning needs (Lemmer, 2007:218; Wolfendale, 1999:164; Zelman & Waterman, 1998:371). This would then help to achieve equality among the members of these communities (Desimone, 1999:12; Mahoney, Schweer & Staffin, 2002:72; Greer, 2004:6). Michael, Dittus and Epstein (2007:567) as well as Greer (2004:6) add that involvement of parents might improve learning outcomes by better attendance rates, literacy, numeracy outcomes, self-esteem, social behaviour and completion rates in children’s school education or movement from school to work.
However, Bridgemohan (2002:3) observes that schools practise parental involvement in different ways, even as Epstein and Jansorn (2004:19-23) add that a school’s strengths and backgrounds is the main determinant of its practices in this regard. Several models of parental involvement, such as Gordon’s Family Impact, School Impact and Community Impact models (Gordon, 1977:74-77), Swap’s School-to-Home Transmission, the Curriculum Enrichment and the Partnership Models (Swap, 1992:57), Comer’s School Development Programs (1988:24) and Epstein’s Model (1995:704) exist.
While these models have their individual merits, the adopted theoretical stance of the stakeholders, is the determinant of the type and extent of parental involvement that the school will envision and consequently assume. Thus, for instance, if teachers make parental involvement part of their regular school practice, parents interact and work together more with their children at home, feel more confident in assisting their children with schoolwork and this improves their attitudes towards the teachers (Bridgemohan, 2002:15; Imgram, Wolfe & Lieberman, 2007:479).
Several theories on parental involvement are discussed in this chapter, although the focal point is Epstein’s Model of Home-School Involvement . The Joyce L Epstein’s (1995:704) theoretical Model of Parent/School/Community Relationships is one of the most inclusive models and is referred to in the United States’ Project Appleseed (2007:4). It has, therefore been selected for this study and its six areas (namely, parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making and collaborating with the community) will be used as the framework for the study of parental involvement in primary schools in Kenya. Therefore, it will form the basis of this chapter.

PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN SCHOOLS: A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Theoretical stance of the school, teachers, parents and other stakeholders

The parent-teacher relationship in a school is the upshot of the theoretical perspective held by the stakeholders, and their specific standpoints influence the extent to which collaboration between the parent, and school occurs. According to Lemmer (2000:62) the most notable theories on teacher-parent interactions are those of Coleman (1987:32-38), Epstein (1995:701-702), Swap (1993:28-58), Gordon (1977:72-78) and Comer (1987:32-38). All provide useful insights into the relationship between schools and parents. These are presented in the following sections.

Theories of parental involvement
The Coleman theory of parental involvement

Coleman’s social capital” theory (1987:32-33) asserts that changes i n the parents’ workplace, especially the mother to work outside the home, and the simultaneous shift to mass education outside the home, and which used traditionally to be done at home has weakened the family structure. Consequently, families have become unable to carry out proper socialisation of their children. Education has also, as a consequence moved from the home to formal schools because socialisation of the child is not effectively possible in the household. The school as a new organisation has been established that offers resources that produce attitudes, effects and conception of self, to provide the necessary social capital for the next generation that the home was unable to provide any longer (Coleman, 1987:38).
According to Martinez, Martinez and Peres (2004:24), social capital refers to the quality and depth of relationships among people in a family or in a community. This capital is created by the relationship between children and parents (and other family members) and the resources that are generated for meeting the child’s welfare. Coleman (1987: 36) observes that families lay the foundation for their children’s progress by building their self-confidence, self-concept and self-reliance and that if these home-training aspects are not completed by the time the child begins school, they become a shared responsibility of the family and the school. Parents, therefore provide the building blocks that make learning possible: if positive influences from the home are lacking, problems will arise.
Coleman (1987: 37) adds that social capital is also found outside the family in the religious, political, economic and social institutions in the community that give it stability and organisation, and that the community can increase its resources by contributing to the development of its members, thereby providing social capital to its members. Moreover, a strong sense of community, common values, and willingness to cooperate are necessary in establishing a positive environment for children.
Coleman (1987:35) states that schools and homes socialise the child through inputs such as the opportunities, demands and rewards that are provided by schools as one category of inputs, and the intimate and more persistent environment offered by the family as the other category of inputs. The household’s social environment is the foundation of the child’s attitudes, effort and conception of the self, that is the child’s attitudes toward and expectations from education are rooted in the home, as well as its future effort towards scholastic attainment. The expectations and beliefs of the parents, families and communities instigate the child’s attitudes towards schooling and learning. These form the building blocks or social capital that makes learning achievable. Accordingly, the mutual interaction between the qualities the child brings from home and the qualities provided by the school determine its learning outcomes.
Van Wyk (2008:14) notes that schools socialise the learner by offering the communal ground for the children to learn in various ways, building upon the socialisation that occurs at home. Coleman (1987:36), on the other hand observes that family socialisation has a superior influence on the child’s attitude, learning ability and aptitude in school subjects than the school does. Thus, linking home and school is essential for the child’s academic performance improvement.
According to Halpern (2005:4), families provide the financial, human and social capital. The author compares financial capital to the family income, which is a strong predictor of children’s educational success. Additionally, parental aspirations and the levels of parent-child interactions, on the other hand, play a large educational role in the child (Majoribanks

  • Kwok, 1998:100). Thus, financially poor families with high educational aspirations for their children, and who interact regularly with them will ‘produce’ successful scholars irrespective of their poverty.
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According to Coleman (1987:37), the social capital obtainable from the family and community was declining and this mostly hurts children with little human and social capital in their families. Therefore, he advocated religious instruction in public schools because the church, as a fundamental driving force in the community, traditionally plays a major role in the lives of poor African-Americans in the United States of America. He observes that Catholic school pupils performed better compared to public schools, as a result of the good relationships created between the schools, the families and the communities they served. According to Halpern (2005:4) human capital may also include the parents’ level of education. Hence, parents with a higher level of formal education are able to provide home environments that encourage and support learning. However, the author adds that financial and human capital alone do not wholly explain the educational performance of children.
Coleman suggests that the social capital offered by a school is also important because the achievement of pupils is the consequence of the mutual interaction between the qualities that the learner brings from home and the qualities that the school offers. Hargreaves (2001:506) adds that while some schools that are richer in social capital are able to build their pupils’ intellectual capital, those with poor social capital weaken pupils’ achievement, propagating mediocrity among their pupils. Significantly, the social capital of schools serving poor families is important. Sun (1998:432) argues that poor families that live in deprived areas face the disadvantages of their own poverty and that of their environs. According to Sun, this social effect is often reflected in poorer performance in children from such backgrounds in subjects such as science, mathematics and reading. Moreover, as the social capital in the home and neighbourhood decline, achievement in school is also bound to decline because there are fewer opportunities, demands and rewards available for pupils. Therefore, to improve achievement in children involving the family and community is very important. This would stir up the right attitudes, effort and conception of self that the children and youth require in order to succeed in school and as adults later in life. For this therefore, schools should offer parental workshops and newsletters to enable parents share useful information in order to make them effective mentors at home for their children. Halpern (2005:157) observes that family, school and community social capital are complementally and that the more family, community, or school capital that is available, the more beneficial it would be for the pupils.

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Type II: Communication
Definition, practices, challenges and benefits

The objective in this type of parent involvement is to design more effective mutual communications between school and home with all families, all year round, on school programs and pupils’ progress.
This requires that schools conduct conferences with each parent at least once a year, with follow-ups if needed. Language translators are provided to assist parents if considered necessary. Weekly or monthly folders of pupils’ work are sent home for parents’ to see it and their comments sent back to the teacher. Useful notices, memos, phone calls, newsletters, and other communications are regularly sent out to families and the latter together with pupils can pick up report cards, and attend meetings on improving grades. Clear information on selecting of schools, courses, programs, should also be provided.
The challenges posed to schools in achieving this type of parent involvement include: the readability, clarity, form and frequency of all memos, notices, and other print and non-print communications should be reviewed to take consideration of all parents including those who are unable to speak or read well the school’s instructional language (Epstein & Sheldon, 2005:8). Communications on the programme, content and structure of conferences; newsletters; report cards and others should also be reviewed and clear two-way channels of communication from home to school and school to home should be established.
According to Nistler and Angela (2000 as cited in McNeil & Patin, 2005:4), communication is the major reason for lack of parent involvement, especially the lack of clear straightforward and helpful information. Epstein and Sheldon (2005: 5) found that most communication that occurs between parents and schools is often from the school to parents. Such communication takes place in situations where children of those parents have behavioural or learning problems or with parents who have shown interest in helping their children (Letsholo, 2006:4). Additionally, as Letsholo (2006:4) observes concerning a survey done in the United States, most parents did not communicate with the school during the year and also did not have a meeting or conference with teachers over the year. Monadjem (2003:32) adds that while over 95% of teachers reported having communicated with parents, it was seldom, not regular, or detailed.

CHAPTER ONE 
1.0 PROBLEM FORMULATION, AIMS AND THE RESEARCH DESIGN
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION
1.3 BRIEF HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN KENYAN SCHOOLS
1.4 PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN KENYA
1.5 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.6 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.7 AIM OF THE RESEARCH
1.8 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.9 RESEARCH METHODS AND DESIGN
1.10 DEFINITIONS
1.11 CHAPTER DIVISION
1.12 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2 
2.0 THEORIES OF AND PRACTICE OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT 28
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN SCHOOLS: A THEORETICAL
FRAMEWORK
2.3. EPSTEIN’S TYPOLOGY OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT
2.4 A RESEARCH AGENDA FOR PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN KENYA
2.5 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3  
3.0 EDUCATION AND PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN KENYA
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THE KENYAN EDUCATION SYSTEM
3.3 HISTORY OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN KENYA
3.4 EDUCATIONAL POLICY EVOLUTION
3.5 PARENT INVOLVEMENT POLICY
3.6 LIMITATIONS OF KENYA’S PARENT INVOLVEMENT POLICY
3.7 CHALLENGES FACING FREE PRIMARY EDUCATION
3.8 PARENTAL ROLE IN THE EDUCATION OF THEIR CHILDREN
3.9 CONTEXTUAL FACTORS INFLUENCING PRIMARY EDUCATION
AND PARENT INVOLVEMENT
3.10 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4
4.0 RESEARCH QUESTION
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH QUESTION
4.3 AIM OF THE RESEARCH
4.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.5 DATA COLLECTION TECHNIQUES
4.6 ETHICAL MEASURES
4.7 MEASURES TO ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.8 DATA ANALYSIS
4.9 PRESENTATION OF DATA
4.10 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 
5.0 PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 PROFILE OF THE PARTICIPANTS
5.3 CATEGORISING AND PATTERNING OF DATA
5.4 DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS
5.5 MODEL FOR PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN KENYAN PUBLIC
SCHOOLS
5.6 CONCLUSIONS ON PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC
PRIMARY SCHOOLS
CHAPTER SIX 
6.0 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 SUMMARY
6.3 SUMMARY OF EMPIRICAL FINDINGS
6.4 CONCLUSIONS OF THE STUDY
6.5 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.7 CONCLUSION
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN KENYA

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