Title page for ETD etd-09252008-142902

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Hamunyela, Miriam Ndalilashiwa
Email mhamunyela@unam.na
URN etd-09252008-142902
Document Title A critical analysis of parental involvement in the education of learners in rural Namibia
Degree PhD
Department Curriculum Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof W J Fraser Co-Supervisor
Dr C J G Bender Supervisor
  • critical analysis
  • communication
  • participation
  • relationship
  • support
  • rural
  • professional educator
  • parent
  • involvement
  • academic education
Date 2008-09-03
Availability unrestricted

The role of parents in the education of learners as well as the relationships between and amongst parents and professional educators has long been of interest to researchers and practitioners at all levels of public and private education. The consistent findings that the involvement of parents positively influences educational quality and learnersí academic achievement are well documented. However, the findings also concluded that parental involvement is difficult to implement in rural schools and its practices are more likely to take root in schools that serve urban and suburban populations than in schools that serve rural and low-income populations. Moreover, in most schools where parental involvement is functional, parents are more involved in non-academic activities than academic activities. Against this background, it can be stated that there is insufficient empirical research-based information on whether and how parental involvement in academic education of learners can be practised in economically distressed contexts, especially in Namibia. Therefore, the current study intended to critically analyse whether and how do professional educators and parents of rural lower primary schools in Namibia perceive, think about and practise involvement in the academic education of learners.

The framework of this study is based on Critical and Ecological Theories. The Ecological Theory regards both parents and schools as valuable contributors to childrenís learning. The critical theory claims that there is no absolute knowledge that people can grasp. All people encounter are opinions. Hence, this study challenged a long held ideal and belief of the capitalist culture in regard to positioning activities, and knowledge and resources of poor families as subordinate.

The study employed a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methodological research designs. A survey about professional educatorsí perceptions on parental involvement was sent to 205 schools (of which 87 responded) to collect quantitative data for Phase 1 of the study. Frequency analysis was done to identify the meaning of the quantitative data. The analysis of quantitative data grouped schools into 3 groups (high, intermediate and low) according to their levels of practising parental involvement. Six schools (2 per group) were selected for Phase 2 of the study. Interviews were conducted among 18 professional educators and 12 parents of the six schools to collect qualitative data on their perspectives, attitudes and practices of parental involvement. Content analysis was made use of to explore meaningful aspects and indicators of parental involvement in lower primary schools in Ohangwena Region.

The following indicators revealed by the professional educatorsí and parentsí reported experiences of parental involvement practice qualify the researched schools to be regarded as demonstrating parental involvement in learnersí academic education: conducive climate and respectful relationship; provision of educational opportunities to parents; use of community resources; provision of opportunities for technical support to parents; use of various and possible communication options; power sharing with parents and encouraging them to actively participate in decision-making bodies; and professional educatorsí positive attitude towards involvement.

© University of Pretoria 2008

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