Parental involvement in learning at rural multi-grade schools in South Africa: a school, community and family partnership programme
Venter, Nicolaas van Loggenberg
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Parental involvement in rural multigrade schools in South Africa is poor. This is mainly due to a lack of support for and insufficient knowledge regarding the development of a programme that would increase parental involvement at rural multigrade schools in South Africa. The context of multigrade education in South Africa reflects the reality of a lack of parental involvement. South African rural multigrade education is beset by a variety of internal and external challenges which have a detrimental effect on effective parental involvement. However, in the rural multigrade school context, parents have untapped potential that needs to be identified and acted upon in order to empower parents; this could provide the rural marginalised children with meaningful access to quality education. Research has proved that parental involvement has a positive effect on the quality of education. According to research, the six types of parental involvement are parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making and collaborating with the community. In this study the focus was on involving parents in learning and allowing them to become active partners in education. To increase parental involvement in learning at rural multigrade schools in South Africa, an intervention was needed. This intervention came in the form of a school, community and family partnership programme. The core elements of a school, community and family partnership programme (SCAF partnership programme) were the creation of partnerships and communication channels between the school, community and family, as well as the utilisation of existing community resources. These core elements had a specific focus on learning. This study used Bourdieu's (1986) theory on capital and Epstein's (1995) theory of overlapping spheres of influence. The purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics of an effective school, community and family partnership programme that would increase parental involvement in learning at rural multigrade schools in South Africa. Design-based research was employed in order to design, develop and test the proposed programme. Research was conducted in two phases. During the preliminary phase, a needs and content analysis, review of literature, and the development of a conceptual or theoretical framework for the study were conducted. This was followed by a prototyping phase which is an iterative design phase consisting of iterations, each being a micro-cycle of research with formative evaluation as the most important research activity, and which is aimed at improving and refining the intervention. Summative evaluation was conducted during the prototype phase in order to determine whether the solution or intervention met the pre-determined specifications. Data gathered during this study indicated: 1. The SCAF partnership programme can increase parental involvement in learning at rural multigrade schools if certain product and process characteristics are active. 2. The SCAF partnership programme allows utilising school, home and community capital through interaction and collaboration to increase parental involvement in learning. 3. A SCAF partnership programme should focus on learning through creating partnerships and opportunities for communication, and utilising community resources. 4. A SCAF partnership programme should be employed through a specific process. 5. Design research offers an appropriate and powerful approach to design, develop and implement a SCAF partnership programme that increases parental involvement in learning at rural multigrade schools. Keywords: Parental involvement, Parents, Design Research, Rural multigrade schools, Rural multigrade education
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