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The elimination of school fees from public primary school under the Governments policy in Cambodia in order to reach the EFA Goal by 2015 has increased student enrollments from year to year. However, the quality of education of public schools has reduced while the number of students who transfer from public to private schools has increased more and more. To obtain a better understanding of the factors influencing parents' decision in choosing private primary schools for children, researcher has investigated the perception between two groups of parents, high and low educated parents. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect data from 2 high educated parents and 2 from low educated parents. The interviews were conducted with the parents whose children studying â€‹â€‹â€‹in a private primary school in Phnom Penh. Data was analyzed by using an interpretive analysis method. The findings indicated the different factors influencing the parents' decision such as quality and standard of education, learning environment, security, safety and services. However, most parents consider about the quality and safety of their children because they don't have enough time to take care their children even their education during the daytime. According to the findings, most parents have a positive perspective on the choice of private schools even some private schools are expensive. They believe that the higher the school fees it set the higher in quality they will be offered. One of the parents; for example, transferred her child from cheaper to higher price in term of school fees and services. The children in wealthier and higher educated family background have a higher possibility of transferring to private schools than children from poorer and lower educated family background.
Education plays an important role in socioeconomic development in every country. It can also improve human resources as not all the human abilities which are offered by birth. Education makes people feel confident, aware and active in term of knowledge and skill development (Rehman, Khan, Tariq & Tasleem, 2010). It develops human abilities needed for economic and social development. Many years public schools play a very important role in developing the education as well as building human resources. However, in recent years, private schools have grown very fast by providing good quality. No matter the fee in private school is very high, parents are still happy to invest their youngsters in the private sector (Rehman et al., 2010).
According to the report of the Education Management Information System (EMIS) of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports 2010-2011, private schools have been growing very fast. Private schools have done its privatization since 1992 under the supervision of MoEYS (MoEYS, 2011). Among 24 provinces and cities, there are only 9 provinces and cities that have sent their report of private schools to the EMIS office (MoEYS, 2011). Until now there are 264 private schools in the whole kingdom, but only 120 schools that provide primary education. Among 120 schools, 71 schools located in Phnom Penh (MoEYS, 2011).
Cambodia is one of many developing countries with a recent history of rapid growth within the private education sector. Since Cambodia steps into a free market economy in the early 1990s, education has become a very important key to human resource development. However, while the demand of education begins growing faster and faster, public education is still in poor condition and unresponsive to the growing need and free markets that offer people what they want (Bernal, 2005). Bernal (2005) stated that since competition among public schools has not been introduced, parents are free to choose any schools they want for their children. On the one hand, competition among private schools is very strong, so each school has managed many kinds of strategies in order to attract the parents as well as their children to participate the school. Private school enrollment is not a simple function of parental preferences. The quality of private schools can be a high demand in which parents seek for their child's education (Desai, Dubey, Vanneman & Banerji, 2008). Private education is often perceived to be about serving the needs of the high and middle classes, not the poor.
Most of parents want to provide the best educational environment for their children. The parents decide to invest their children in form of education depends on number of social, cultural and economic factors (Rehman et al., 2010). Parents usually decide to choose the best quality school for their youngsters when they are dissatisfied with public school. Private schools are mostly more effective than public schools in terms of school environment, qualified teachers, smaller size of classes and parents' education. Rehman et al. (2010) found that a great majority of parents seemed dissatisfied with the public school due to various reasons: qualified teachers, good relationship between schools and parents, class sizes and others.
Choosing school for children, parents may make themselves feel more confident that children will be taught effectively and treated fairly (Spellings, 2005). Choosing schools carefully is an important way parents can help their children all what he / she can be. School choice is highly related to parents' occupational status. The parents with higher occupational status prefer to choose private school rather than public school for their children. The school choice of parents show about their satisfaction with the school they choose (Rehman et al., 2010).
Moreover, many parents consider teacher quality the most important factor to guarantee the quality of their children education while the other value school academic reputation and facilities (as cited in Wilkinson, Denniss & Machintosh, 2004). According to the research of Wilkinson et al. (2004) stated that some teachers have perceived pressure in the public school system that may lead to the non-quality teaching condition. In contrast, private sector offers incentives, good working environment, and other benefits which encourage teachers to work hard by providing the best quality of education, that's why parents choose private school rather than public school.
1.2 Problem Statement
Private education in Cambodia has expanded rapidly in number as well as absorbing more students. Private sector, especially private school, has become one of the potential partners with the government to improve and develop the education sector as well as human resources. The increasing competitions as well as the huge demand of education have led to the rapid expansion of the private sector, which is new in the history of modern education in Cambodia. Because these private education institutions are profit seeking, the majority of them are only to offer courses with high demand and high quality (Desai, Dubey, Vanneman & Banerji, 2008). Moreover, the private education in Cambodia raises many questions concerning about future success and quality. On condition that it's new existence and concerning among public, the private education keeps increasing students' enrollment from year to year. This rising enrolment contributes to the continuous growth of private sector which the priorities of the private institutions are for profit, and depend mostly on students' fee. Even the fee of some institutions increases more and more, students' parents still choose private school but not the public one. Since the last few decades, public school seems to be less attention from parents in term of service, qualityâ€¦etc.
On the other hand, high income of families is also a key factor that affects the school choice. For instance, some parents who have higher income will send their children to a high-fee school (Wilkinson et al, 2004). Similarly, parents with lower income will send their children to less expensive private school or public school. Moreover, according to the study of Rehman et al. (2010) found that lack of education facilities, unsuitable teaching methods, poor discipline, less attention to the overall development of the children, overcrowded classes, lack of teachers' interest and unsuitable educational environment are major reasons that the parents avoid the public schools. They also mentioned that the classes in public school are mostly overcrowded and become very hard for teachers to concentrate on the development of every student. These have aroused my curiosity to explore parents' perceptions towards private schools in Cambodia.
1.3 Research objectives
The purposes of this research are to identify the common factors as well as the reasons parents decide to choose private school for their children education and also to find out the factors which motivate parents to choose a particular school to educate their children. Researcher wants to explore the critical factors influencing parents' decision to pursue their children study in the private sector and in choosing a particular private education institution. Another purpose for this research is to identify the different perception between parents who are in the city and suburb area. It also assesses how they view the quality of private schools based on their own experience.
1.4 Research Questions
This study is conducted purposively to answer the following two research questions:
What are the factors influencing parents' decision to choose private primary school for their children?
What are the different perceptions between high and low educated parents in choosing the schools for their children?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research is attempted to contribute to the discussion of critical factors that affect parents' decision in choosing a private school as well as their perceptions of quality of private sector. It also gives an understanding of parents' experiences of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in private and public education which would be aware of students' need and the view of customers. So those private sectors may respond by designing suitable courses, programs, and service to meet students' needs. The findings of this research will also allow public schools to be better informed as well as aware of new roles of private education sector as seen by parents' perceptions. This may allow public education sector to readily reorganize some dissatisfaction factors by providing an education with higher quality. It would also contribute to the future growth, development and significance of private education sector in Cambodia.
Definition of key terms
This research will include 3 key terms that are particularly used to refer only in this study, but not in general.
Private primary school is referred to non-government school which is run by private sector. However, this private primary school, from grade 1 to 6, is under the supervision of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports.
High educated parents mentioned in this research are referred to the ones who have the Bachelor Degree or higher. And they are referred to the ones who work as government officers, NGOs staff and company staff (As higher position).
Low educated parents which mentioned in this paper are focused on the parents who have no Bachelor Degree or equivalent certificates. These parents may not work as government officers, NGOs staff or company staff, but they just sell things at the market or have a small business.
1.7 Proposed chapter outline of research paper
This research contains five chapters. Chapter one gives detail background of the previous studies related to the topic. It also provides detail information of research problem, research objectives, research questions, then significance of study, and definition of key term. In chapter two, there will be literature review which will discuss on previous studies and how they related to this study. Then in chapter three, there will be methodology covering research design of qualitative, tools/instruments for data collection, sample size and sampling method, data collecting procedures, data analysis, ethical consideration, and strengths and limitation of the method. Findings and discussion will be presented in chapter four giving results of the research and together with some problems or solutions to be discussed. The last chapter is conclusion and recommendation and must be followed by reference list giving detail about the sources which are used in this research.
Definition of "Quality" in Education
Quality in education should involve learners, content, processes, environments, and outcomes (UNICEF, 2000). Learners are healthy, ready to participate and learn, and supported by their communities and families. Contents include literacy, numeracy, and especially life skills. Environments are referred to healthy, protective, safe, and provide appropriate resources and facilities to students in their learning processes. Outcomes are linked to national goals for education and positive participation in society in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. OECD (2012) has combined the quality with equity which means that if social and personal circumstance such as ethnic origin, family background or gender, are able to access the educational fairness, the quality of education will increase higher and higher.
2.2 Comparison between Public and Private Schools
Private schools have greater demand than public schools. Nowadays the idea that 'private education is always better than public education' has become a common idea which is linked to discipline, level of attainment and individual attention (Bernal, 2005). This study was to evaluate parents' school choice and this may produce exclusion of society and inequality. Particular populations, economically disadvantaged groups, immigrants and ethnic minorities are considered the same schools (Bernal, 2005). In contrast, research argued that an open market system is not important in order to ensure the social class reproduction. However, parents are free to choose the school for the children's education. Then family income and number of children attending the same school has increased dramatically. Private schools are free to plan the model of what they prefer. The competition among private schools is very strong in all kinds of commercial and marketing strategies. There are five characteristics of the market system in Spain: free choice of school, school "sells" themselves to parents, public financing to both form of provision, diversity, control and management. The tough competition between schools and the outcomes are similar (Bernal, 2005). The upper and middle classes go to private schools, while economically disadvantaged groups, ethnic minorities and immigrants go to the public school.
Children who are in private school have higher reading and arithmetic skills than those in public schools (Desai et al., 2008). This paper explores the relationship by examining different economic status in the private and public schools; moreover, it indicates that while children from lower economic status are more likely to be physically punished in the public schools than their peers who choose private schools. The relationship between economic status and physical punishment is negligible in private schools. There are private schools for the poor and they are most likely to have the big effect on enrollment (Baird, 2009). Parents select private schools because they think that the schools will provide better education in term of quality and opportunities in the future for their children than the state schools. Baird (2009) also found that there is no relationship between a particular area's wealth and the enrollment in private schools. Private education should be generalized throughout the world, not just in India especially for the poor. The less satisfied citizens are with the government schools; in contrast, the rich choose private schools for their children education. The government schools or state schools should provide better education in term of quality, particularly for the poor (Baird, 2009). Choosing private school is not the decision of parents alone, but it has to be shared by their children in this decision making.
However, Bertola, Checchi, & Oppedisano (2007) mention that expensive private school is supposed to be better than free public school in terms of quality and safety because parents will send their children to other schools if they don't offer better service. Student quality is likely very different in terms of across academic and vocational secondary school tracks (Bertola et al., 2007). Parents are positively associated with private schooling and may also appreciate the longer hours and flexibility of private schools' schedules. Rational choice of theory suggests that parents are utility maximizes who can make their own decisions from clear value of preferences, that they can demand effective actions from local schools and teachers, and that they are able to be relied upon to pursue the best interest of the children (Bosetti, 2004). This presents a different perspective and argues that parents invest a mixture of choice when selecting schools. Bertola et al., (2007) argue that a schooling system's organization may consider that private school enrollment leads to worse subsequent activities in the future education or in the labor market. If students are different not only their families' ability to pay but also their own ability to take advantage of their talent, theory predicts that private schools attract students badly when publicly funded schools are better suited to force progress not only their families' ability to pay but also their own ability to take advantage of their talent.
2.3 School Fee affects on School choice
Coulson (2009) finds that private school families are basically different from public school families because they choose the schools through the school fee. Some parents believe that the higher school fee they set the higher quality of education they will offer. The result of this research also provides clearer understanding about the expectations, ideals and experiences of parents influence school choice. Most of parents want to educate their children with the best quality of education environment. They want to invest their children depend on a number of cultural, economic and social factors (Rehman et al., 2010). In Pakistan, education is offered by both private and public sectors. Studying in public schools is free of charge while parents have to pay in private schools. The price in private school is higher; however, parents still send their children to private school because they hope that their children will receive better education. Since the last three decades, private sector has been considered as an important resource of education in Pakistan. Then the factors that motivate parents' decisions about private sector are yet to be explored. Family size, education level of parents, income of parents, school performance and staff qualifications are considered as the major factors that affect parents' choice in choosing private school (Desai et al., 2008; Rehman et al., 2010). This study has shown that about 88.5% were the view these schools have a progressive mode of education while 86% parents avoided public schools due to unsuitable educational environment. Even the school fees are high or low, there is no different between private and public schools (CEP, 2007). Holme (2002) suggests that poor families should be provided with the same quality of educational choices that the wealthier have. It is inequity that private schools seem to be established for the rich not the poor.
2.4 School choice influences on Students' Achievement
Choosing a school has direct effects on children development as well as children's educational achievement, literacy, numeracy and scientific knowledge (Sylva, 1994). Moreover, formal educational qualifications are the main key for children to enter higher education or training and also employment. The results show that excellent attendance, cognitively oriented pre-school programs was associated with later school competence. Pre-school graduates were more likely than the control group to provide achievement-related answers to the invitation. Findings also suggest that early education changed the family achievement orientation. Most mothers whose children attended pre-school expected more from their children. The children themselves also show more pride in their achievement. Pupil cognitions, motivations and school performance also effect pupils' development. Academic self-concept has an independent impact on children academic attainment and parental education (Sylva, 1994; Gibbons et al., 2009).
A productive school normally produces high achievement for students for their school fee on investing with schools (Hoxby, 2003). If a school could raise students' achievement while spending the same as the others, it would be expected to draw the students away from those schools. Low-productivity producers will be driven out by high-productivity producers. There are many different types of schools: for profit, for non-profit private schools, regular public schools, and charter schools (Hoxby, 2003).
Moreover, it is slightly different from others because the others about the choices parents make for their children while this literature is about the influences of the school. Children developments such as pre-school education, primary school on children's attainment, attitudes and behavior, pupil cognitions, motivations, school performance, social competence and attainment are likely to be concerned by most parents (Sylva, 1994). Gibbons and Silva (2009) argued that parents choose schools for children according to their high performance. Previous research suggested that school quality is not only one dimension about which children and parents concern, other school factors like pupil happiness and enjoyment of their learning environment are also considered. These lead the researchers consider about parents perceptions of school choice based on academic standards and related with the children wellbeing. Some researcher (Gibbons et al., 2009; Sylva, 1994; Coulson, 2009) found that attitudes and experiences, among pupils and their parents linked to standard test score based measures of academic performance, and whether parents' perception of school quality linked to their children's happiness and enjoyment of school. Gibbons et al. (2009) assumed that parents choose schools for children according to their high performance. They suggest that school quality is not only one dimension about which children and parents concern, other school factors like pupil happiness and enjoyment of their learning environment are also considered. This need to be considered about parents perceptions of school choice based on academic standards and related with the children wellbeing. Bernal (2005) & Baird (2009) also agreed that parents select private schools because they think that the schools will provide better education in term of quality and opportunities in the future for their children than the state schools. There is no relationship between a particular area's wealth and the enrollment in private schools.
Private education is assumed to be concerned only with serving the high or middle class, not the poor (Trooley et al., n.d; Baird, 2009). Children who were in the private unaided schools get higher score than government school students. Moreover, children in unrecognized private schools achieve higher marks in mathematics than government students, 83% higher in Hindi and 246% higher in English. Scores in the recognized private schools were higher. Researchers also found that children in unaided private schools were more satisfied than the government schools. Unrecognized private schools are assumed to be educationally inadequate. This assumption is untrue because there are many unrecognized private schools achieved universal basic education, education for all. Children in private unaided schools get higher achievement than government schools. Private unaided schools cost less than government schools; moreover, teaching commitment is higher in private unaided than the government schools. However, these findings mean that nothing could be improved in the private sector for serving the poor (Trooley et al., n.d). According to the United Nation Millennium Development Goal of "education for all (EFA)", education should be provided equally, even the poor. Then; however, private schools still take part in contributing the knowledge, not only public schools, for all children equally with quality of education.
2.5 Transferring from Public Schools
The quality of education in public schools has reduced and the number of students who transfer from public to private schools has increased according to suggestion make by some experts (Nishimura, M. & Yamano, T., 2008). As results, researchers have found that the school quality has a positive impact on the choice of private schools. They found not only transfers from public to private schools but also between public schools. Children who are in wealthy households have a higher probability of transferring to private schools than children who are in poorer households. Nishimura et al., (2009) & Trooley et al., (n.d) have shown that to maintain the quality of education is an urgent policy agenda for Nation Millennium Development Goal of "education for all" that have adopted free primary education policies to enhance the education system equally. There is a positive impact on the choice of private schools. So it means that private education play very important role in providing good quality of education, even for the poor.
2.6 Choosing School through where they live
Even some public schools are as high in quality as or higher than that of private schools, parents still send their children to private schools (Figlio, 1997). Parents might find a well disciplined for their children, or might satisfy with a higher probability that their children can participate in extracurricular activities substantively. Figlio (1997) finds that parents might wish for their children to perform with a right peer group. Parents choose private schools for their curricula and academic emphasizes, discipline, and safety. Checchi et al. (2004) agrees that private schools allow parents to choose the quality of education and the amount of price that they believe appreciate and satisfy. Beside, this literature also indicates that resource indicators, out come indicators, and subjective assessments are the factors in which we can measure as quality of schools.
There are many ways in which parents are involved in children's education. And one of the most important ways is through choosing the best school for children to attend (Goldring, et al., 2006). Most of parents choose a school according to where they live. Private schools are available more and more for parents because of the increasing availability of leaflets or vouchers that are targeted to low-income families. Some researchers may compare the choice of the parents between public and private schools. Goldring et al. (2006) examine how parents make school choices and the dynamics of the choice progress with an emphasis of public schools. Then he also indicates that parents who participate in school choosing have five different ways: parental involvement, socials networks, educational priorities, demographics, and satisfaction with previous school. Parents who choose the schools also tend to be more involvement in children's education. School quality can be related to its characteristics such as: school demographics, school location, school atmosphere, and academic performance (Goldring, et al., 2006). Parents really concern about their children's safety when it comes to how they travel to or from school (Faulkner et al., 2010 & Figlio, 1997). Parents always look after children so they have to find the best ways for them to send them to school safely. However, some parents may allow their children travel to school independently (Faulkner et al., 2010). In contrast, children can be allowed to walk according to the street or the way to school is safe for them. And whether how far is the house from school. But others think that parents don't care how far it is if school provides the best quality of education.
2.7 Choice depending on family's background
According to the study by CEP (2007) finds that key family backgrounds were considered as the prior factor that forces students or parents to choose public or private schools. Students who attend private schools receive no better on achievement tests than those who choose public schools in reading, Math, history, and science. Students who had attended any type of private school ended up with no more jobs satisfaction that those who choose traditional public school. However, students' achievement depends on school they choose. If students attend private school with higher school fee, test scores will be higher (Alderman, Orazem, & Paterno, 2001; Holme, 2002). Transferring from government schools to private schools is increasing because of the quality and higher achievement test scores. The strong demand for private schools is depended on the evidence of greater language achievement and mathematics in private schools than in public schools (Alderman et al., 2001). Parents' education significantly; however, reduces no-schooling option. When parents are educated well, they will concern more about their children's education. Then private school is the first choice for their children even the school fee is high or really high, what they want is quality of education.
The ability of high-income parents will allow their children to access to high-quality school by moving to a good school area. Parents concern about student discipline based on students' racial and class background, particularly violence at school. Holme (2002) finds that according to the income parents earn, they can send their children to the best private or public school to ensure that children will get the best quality of education. The researcher has also found that high-status schools tend to attract more well-qualified teachers. That can result in providing students a challenging curriculum. Parents are sensitive about the location of schools, and prefer school with positive atmosphere as reflected in school discipline, class size, and school safety. Moreover, parents believe that private schools offer better education, additional resources, better policies and practices, and an environment more deductive to learning (OECD, 2012). Parents are well-informed about school curriculum and others important factors as mention above.
Parents' education and use of individual tutoring lessons also raise the possibility of private school enrollment. Parental involvement and share of students in private display no correlation with college enrolment. Bertola et al. (2007) suggest that as long as peer effects are relevant, the students from lower quality private school imply a similarly low quality of the education offered by this segment of the market.
2.8 Conceptual Framework
There are several reasons that influent parents' decision in choosing a private primary school. The study journals, articles, and reports from the above literatures provide different perspectives as well as reasons influencing parents' decision in choosing a private school such as school fees, students' achievement, safety, and family background.
Choosing a school has direct effects on children development as well as children's educational achievement, literacy, numeracy and scientific knowledge (Sylva, 1994). Children can achieve higher test scores depends on their abilities, together with the schools they choose. However, the best school will provide the best quality of education. Pupils' motivations, cognitions and school performance also affect the pupils' achievement and improvement. Hoxby (2003) stated that when the school fee is higher, the better quality will be provided. According to the school fee, if it is set as higher, the quality of education, services, and students' achievement will be higher. A productive school normally produces high achievement for students for their school fee on investing with schools (Hoxby, 2003). If a school could rise students' achievement higher than the other, it will take more and more students from that school as a result on high achievement in test scores. Then Family background also one of the reasons that parents choose private school. When parents are educated and/or from high standard of living family, they would prefer private school for children's education.
This chapter outlines to explain the research design, tools/instruments for data gathering, populations, sample size and sampling method, data collection procedures, a plan to analyze data, ethical consideration, strengths and limitation of research method.
3.1 Research Design
The design of this study follows qualitative research methodology. According to Creswell (1994) describes qualitative research as a type of educational research that "researchers are strongly concerned with process, depend on the view of participants, and more interested in the meaning, how people make sense of their lives, structures, and their experiences of the world" (p.145). Moreover, Shank (2002) defines that qualitative research is a systematic empirical form inquiry into meaning. Qualitative research also involves an interpretative and naturalistic approach (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). It means that qualitative researches study things in their natural setting, interpret the meanings or attempt to make senses of people lives and experiences. This research is to find out factors influencing parents' decision in choosing private schools, so qualitative methodology is the best way to discover deep concepts from parents and their interests towards private schools.
3.2 Tools/Instruments for data gathering
As the concepts of factors influencing parents' decision in choosing private schools for their children is complex and qualitative method in nature, researcher will use data collection method: in-depth interview, together with some questions for the interview. The researcher will interview directly with students' parents to get deep concept as well as detail information. Researcher will also use audiotape recorder, notebook and a list of questionnaires for the interviews to get the information more accurately.
3.3 Site, Population, Sample sizes and Sampling Method
Researcher will use purposive sampling technique to choose parents one private school in Phnom Penh city. To ensure anonymity, the names of the parents selected are referred to: high educated and low educated parents. The school chosen to select the parents also keeps as anonymous. The study is targeting parents who choose private primary school for their children's education in Phnom Penh city. The researcher will select the participants non-randomly, 2 high educated and low educated in the suburb, particularly only those who choose to send their children to private primary schools. 2 parents who are high educated and 2 parents who are low educated will be selected for the interview because researcher believes that the family educational background; however, affects the school choice of their children's education, especially private schools. To identify the parents are high or low educated, the researcher will ask the information from the school principals through the students application forms/student observation books and consider on where they live, in the city or in the suburb area, as well as their occupations.
3.4 Data Collecting Procedures
Researcher will collect data directly from 4 parents in a private primary school located in Phnom Penh city by using semi-structured interview to get in-depth information.
First, before the interview, researcher will ask permission paper from the rector of Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) to conduct the research and go to the field. After getting the permission paper, researcher will select one private primary school in Phnom Penh and one in the suburb that the researcher knows well and ask parents for the interview. Then researcher will introduce and explain them clearly about the purpose of the study. After they agree, the researcher will ask for available date and time as well as the place that can meet to conduct the interviews. Researcher may ask for parents' phone numbers to contact when will be available time and date. Second, during the interview, researcher will show the consent form and explain parents in detail about the purpose and objectives. After they agree with what have mentioned in the consent form, they are required to sign on the form in order to ensure that the information provided is voluntary with the agreement. Then the researcher will use a list of questionnaires, which is prepared for the interview, to ask parents for detail information. During the interview, researcher will use tape recorder and notebook to record the information provided by the parents. Next, the researcher will use the record to interpret and analyze the data.
3.5 Plan to Analyze Data
Researcher will use descriptive analysis method to analyze the data. The study will be based on the findings from the interviews with parents. The researcher will transcribe and analyze data carefully. Thus, the findings will be interpreted to indicate possible factors influencing parents' decision in choosing a particular private primary school for their children as well as different perception between high and low educated parents.
3.6 Ethical Consideration
Researcher will conduct this study in one private primary school in Phnom Penh city. There will be a letter to seek permission from parents for data collection from the M.Ed Program of RUPP. The researcher will also state the purpose and significance of the study attached together with the permission seeking letter to clearly explain all participants. All parents will be asked to sign an agreement to indicate their willingness to participate in this study. The researcher will keep the names of parents or schools in anonymous. There is no information concerning the participants' response, the information is only for the purpose of the study. The parents' participation in this study will be surely voluntary. During the interviewing process, the participants can withdraw whenever they feel insecure or skip any questions if they prefer to do so. After the publication of the final findings, a copy of the results will be given to the university. Then researcher will destroy all the data getting from the interview 1 year after publishing the final findings.
3.7 Strengths and limitation of method
There are several strengths to be conducted in this study. The researcher has good network or access with the schools and parents that can help researcher to be convenient and easy to get data from the parents. Then the researcher will be able to collect information that will be needed in this study. With this convenient way, the researcher will be able to identify 2 parents in the city which considered as high educated and 2 parents as low educated.
However, this study will be limited by three factors. First, this study will target only 4 parents that 2 considered as high educated and 2 considered as low educated in Phnom Penh city. Second, this study will be a case study only which is conducted in one specific private primary school. However, the findings will not generalize to other parents or other private primary school because the sample sizes are not randomly selected and not large. In this case, researchers, scholars and students who willing to conduct researches from these findings have to be careful about making generalization of this study. However, these research findings will definitely offer the basic work for other researches related to parents' perception in choosing private primary schools for children.
FINDING AND DISCUSSION
This chapter describes about interpretation and description of the perspective of 4 parents in choosing private primary school. Their perspectives were grouped into various themes based on the conceptual framework which is mentioned in the literature review section. Then, there is the comparison of perspectives between parents who are from high and low educated family background. According to the interview questions, research objectives and the data got from the interviews, the results of this case study about parents' perceptions in choosing private primary school for children depend on family background. At the end, there will be the discussion of the results giving more detail on parents' perspectives as well as researcher perception.
4.1.1 Family Background
There are different backgrounds of families in society and/or in schools. Then, the perceptions towards choosing school for children might be different in some ways. This research mainly focused on 2 kinds of family background, high educated families and low educated families, in order to seek for the similarities or differences of the perceptions in choosing private schools. The researcher strongly believes that family backgrounds really affect students' learning as well as their achievement. So 2 high educated parents, 1 holds a Bachelor degree while another holds a Master degree, were invited to join the study. These two parents have very similar concept in sending children to private schools. On the other hand, 2 low educated parents were also invited to participate in the study. Both of them only finished grade 12. Both groups high and low educated parents; however, have some concepts in common and also have some slightly different idea towards choosing schools.
126.96.36.199 High Educated Parents
Before choosing school for children, high educated parents have considered about many factors influencing their children education. Parents do not care much about school fees as long as they can afford it and the schools provide what they need. Parents often think about the quality of education produced by the school whether they can trust that school or not. Because they are educated, so quality, especially safety of the children is also very important that parents have to be considered among the other necessary factors. The results have also shown that when parents get higher education, the chance of getting higher education of their children is more considerable. Parents always have a sense of believing in private school through their own experience, their neighbor, their relatives and through media.
One of the parents is the director in an engineering company which graduated in master degree. The quality of education and his children achievement score are the main factors he concerns the most. He believes that private schools will provide the best quality in education and the achievement scores are also high. Because he is a well-educated parent, he also wants his children to be educated will high level of education. As what he expected, his children have got from 1st to 3rd rank among 25 to 30 students every month after sending them to study at private school around two years. Since he has transferred his children from public to private school, they have changed a lot such as test scores, disciplines and morality and particularly he feels more secure at private school. Another parent who is also a director of a company located in the center of Phnom Penh city examine that he choose this private school because it is near to his house and it is easier to contact to the school for emergency case. Not only because of the easiness of accessing to the school, but also he believe in the quality of education, taking care of his children from school as well as from teachers. Those are the factors that make him trust the school the most.
When students are from high educated family backgrounds, they always want any position or educate themselves to be similar or higher than their parents. High educated families always value education the most so that they would encourage their children to get higher education. Parents, if they can afford for their children's education as higher, will try their best in order to get children to enroll higher and higher education. So the first choice parents consider about private schools to education their children, but which private schools should be chosen. Then parents use their own experiences or discuss with other neighbor in order to choose the best school which they can also afford for the school fees.
Moreover, they also express their satisfaction towards private school. The private school they has chosen satisfied them very much in term of the results, security and good communication among parents and teachers. When children studied in public school, teachers never contact to parents about students' progress, but this private school does. In public schools, teachers don't have enough time as well as they don't have any credit to call to the parents. But in private schools are different in term of good communication between school, teachers and parents. So they are very happy and decide that they will never change their mind to transfer children back to public school. However, one of the high educated parents indicates that some public schools are also good because teachers in private schools are from public schools too. This means that some public schools also good in term of students' achievement and quality in education that make parents still believe in the education in public schools.
188.8.131.52 Low Educated Parents
Not far different from high educated parents, the parents who got only high school certificates also have similar point of views in choosing school for children. Even sometimes they don't take time to think much about choosing school for children, they still choose the right and good school for children. The results have indicated that low educated parents just think that sending children to private school is the best choice. One of the parents thinks that she sends children to private school because she doesn't have enough time to take care of her children. She thinks that private schools will take care of her children. Parents believe in private school because the school has good cooperation with parents. It means that when there is something wrong happen to the students, the school always contacts parents immediately. Doing so is the way they build trust between parents and school.
In addition, another parent expressed that he transferred his child to this school because of his neighbor. The neighbor advised him to send his child to this private school because in this school administrator, staff and especially teachers really take care of the students. Then he tested sending his child to that school too. At the end, what he expected from the school has shown him a very good result. His child becomes an outstanding student in class, so he decides not to transfer his child to another school. Moreover, he is very satisfied with the school policies and the administration. The school set up a policy in which all teachers must contact to parents about students' study progress. Thus, staff and teachers also call to parents in case students are absent. This policy makes parents really happy and feel more relax when choosing the school.
Both kinds of family backgrounds, high and low educated parents, have very strong perception towards private school. Even they are in different background, but they still take into account very my about children education. High educated parents want children to be at least similar to them. It means that if they have bachelor degree, then their children have to be at least bachelor degree. Similarly, for low educated parents, children education seems to be more important than other things. They are low educated parents; they only got high school diplomas at most, so they want their children to be higher. For example, two parents got only high school diploma so that they need to push their children to be higher and the outstanding one. So private school is a good choice for them to choose for children education.
4.1.2 School Fees
Private schools have their own right and policy to set the school fees whatever they want depending on services provide to customers. According to researcher's observation, some schools are very expensive; it costs from $1,000 to $3,000 per years while some others even higher around $6,000 to $7,000. Small private schools and not well-recognized schools cost cheaper, it costs around $200 to $400 per year. Those private schools set up their school fees policy depending what they will offer to the customers. If they offer more, then the school fees can be set as higher. However, parents also have their own choice to choose any schools depending on their belief in the schools and the affordability. Most of parents believe that the higher the school fees they set the higher in quality they will get. They don't think much about the price whether it is high or low as long as the school can educate their children well. However, the school fees also indicate about the availabilities of services, high quality and qualified teachers, rich of study materials and the school recognition as well as school reputation.
Two parents have expressed their interests on school fees. They think school fees in the private school that they choose for their children education is a bit expensive if compare to the other private schools. They spend around $1000 per year for school fees, administrative and school bus. This amount of money is very high for poor family, but that is not a problem of rich families as long as they can afford it. There are many schools near their houses which are 3 or 4 times cheaper than this school, but parents still choose the expensive one. Why? According to the data from the interviews, parents indicated that even the price is a bit expensive but they can afford it. The price is not a big problem for them. They believe that what the school will provide them will be as high in quality as the price they have set. Moreover, services the school provides are good and acceptable. If we compare the price with other small and not well-recognized private schools, it is very far different. It costs from $200 to $400 per year, but services, quality and students' achievement are still limited. Services such as calling or contacting to parents about students' progress, taking care of students and especially study materials are not well determined. Quality and students' achievement are still limited and somehow cannot compete with other high price private school.
However, parents never care about the price because the school already provides good quality, shows high achievement of the students, offers good communication between parents and teachers and the most important thing is that parents don't have to think about their children's security and safety. The school always takes care of their children by calling them immediately through the phone in case students don't attend class, they fight each other or any problems happen during study time. Beside these, according to the price the school set, the pictures of the services provided also indicate clearly for the parents to think whether to send children to cheaper or more expensive school fees. For instance, in this private school, cost around $1,000, offers good services such as contacting to parents about students' progress, offering warm welcome for all customers equally and taking care of all children with high responsibility.
However, through parents' observation, some private schools cost very low and they are located very near to their houses but they still cannot choose those schools. Those private schools cost from $200 to $400 per academic year. Low price private schools normally have very limited resources for students to practice such as study materials, experimental equipments, lack of qualified teachers and some schools do not pay much attention on students' progress. Parents also don't really trust on lower price private schools because they see that the schools are small, not enough space for children to play, have no qualified teachers and particularly when students are absent the schools never inform them immediately. One of the parents stated that she sent children to more expensive private school because she thinks about the school reputation too. When the schools are famous which is known by many people it means that those schools are good and students get higher achievement. Not only school reputation, but students' achievement is also the concern of the parents. But after a period of time, she can see the improvement and development of her children if comparing to the previous school. She continued that after attending in this private school her children become outstanding students. They have chances to practice more, express themselves more and enjoy more in learning activities.
Another parent who is from a high educated family background indicated that what he spent for his child in public school was not much different as in private school. He didn't need to pay for the school fees, but he has to spend for other materials like clothes, study stuff and other necessary things for studying. So from year to year he also spent a lot, yet the result is not what he expected. Then he decided to choose private school with higher price which he can accept and afford it. After a year, he saw the result of his child's study. She has improved a lot and becomes more creative in most subjects. He also believes that the school that set the price higher will provide better quality of education. In contrast, he also examined that in the future when his daughter enter higher education, university, he would prefer turn to choose public school for his daughter's further education. He believes that for higher education, public schools are a better choice for children because those public universities are well-recognized by the nation and international.
According to the data and what have just mentioned above, the school fee is not a barrier for parents in choosing private schools. Their concern is about the quality of education. No matter how much the fee is high; as long as parents can afford it, they will choose the best private school for children education. Since they see the value of education as the main factor to build up human resources for the children's future, choosing schools is the most concern for every parent. School fee is also one of the most important factors helping parents to think about private schools. When the price is set higher, parents believe that they will receive better services, quality and achievement and especially their children can compete with other students within the same school as well as from different private school.
The third factor influencing parents' decision is teaching, learning and school environment. Environment is one of the most important factors parents need to take into their consideration. In private school they provide a good condition for all students equally. There is no student outside the classroom during study time because the school principal and securities are very strict. They don't allow students to stay outside the class during study time, so all the students must be in class. Doing so, the students see the good environment with only students who study hard and keen on their study. If there is a student outside during study time, school principal or securities will take some actions on the students or call to the parents immediately so that the problem can be solved. Moreover, the school sets a good environment for students so that students feel better when they come to school. Canteen, library which stores many different kinds of books for students to do research or self study and enough space for students to play, are set to make students really enjoy in their studying.
In classroom; moreover, teachers are knowledgeable and they prepare or arrange the class very nice so that the students feel very happy to learn actively. For example, there are many pictures or posters on the walls so that the students feel very fresh and familiar with words and pictures easily. For this kind of classroom, teachers usually praise the students when they complete exercises correctly or follow the teachers' instructions well. Praising the students like this make students feel happy, motivated and enthusiastic with their lessons. In private schools, teachers usually organize the class with good learning environment which all students want to attend school and feel secure. Teachers have clear objectives for each lesson (according to the parents' point of view). Moreover, private school teachers usually apply student-centered approach into the classrooms so that students have a lot of chance to practice as well as asking questions and answer. Asking students to work in groups or in pairs offers more chance for students to build their communication and relationship among students in the classes and groups, build their social skills which they will need for everyday living and particularly build up their own confidence. Students can also build up their critical thinking skills through students-centered approach. Students learn how to think, deal with the problem, ask questions and response to the questions critically.
When taking the semester exam; furthermore, the school usually separates the classes as well as students into different classes and grades. In one class; for example, the school mixes with many grades such as grade three with grade four, five and six. Then students are also changed the classes during the exam. Doing so the students have no chance to cheat during the exam, and teachers are not difficult to control students. Moreover, the results will show about students' abilities. If they are smart and have the ability to do the exercises they will pass. In contrast, if students don't pay much attention during study time, they will not be able to do exercises or answer the questions during the exam. Thus, teachers are also changed in order to make sure that there is no corruption or any unusually event happens during the exam. And parents are really satisfied with the results their children received as well as the achievement scores. Most of the parents stated that the results and the achievement that their children got are reliable. Their students become smarter, more critical and more confident. With this kind of classroom environment, students have learnt a lot and the results are more satisfied by parents.
In contrast, parents feel very disappointed when talking about the environment in public schools. They see many aspects that can lead their children to be outside the school or classroom. Parents notice that many students sit and talk with their peers or do something that is not good in the school or outside the school. These will appear as bad impact for their children; small children will catch it immediately and easily. They are bad images for young students. In the classroom, some students do not respect their teachers and teachers themselves cannot easily control the students. Seeing this aspect or environment, some parents decide to transfer children from public to private school and even change from cheaper to more expensive private schools. Furthermore, parents notice that there are gangsters in school. They think that one day these gangsters will persuade their children to be bad too. This may affect as whole life or very long time. In public schools; moreover, there are many students in one class which is around 40 to 50 students. According to this, it seems to be very crowded. So this kind of environment cannot motivate students to learn actively and effectively. Students cannot follow teachers' instruction well. Teachers themselves cannot apply student-centered approach into the classroom because there are too many students in one class. Students don't have enough time to practice and ask and answer to the questions. Thus, it is very hard for students to think critically, show their real abilities and the abilities to solve the problem effectively.
In addition; in the classroom, some teachers seem to ignore about students learning progress and achievement. The teachers don't try to organize a good learning environment for students. According to the parents' point of view, teachers don't have enough time to do research on teaching materials, new techniques or methodologies for students. Teachers are lack of teaching resources, supporting materials from the principal and especially teachers themselves are not creative. So, learning environment seems to be poor and poor in public schools.
Teacher plays a very important role in children education. He or she stands in the middle between school and parents. In order to build a good relationship and belief between parents and school, teachers have to communicate to parents very often about students' progress. To be a good teacher, he or she needs to have teaching pedagogy, methodology and techniques in teaching and broader knowledge in the subjects he or she teaches. Through observation, teachers who work in private schools also work in public schools. They spend the same time to teach at private schools and together at public schools. They are the same background of working experience but the ways and techniques they use to educate students in private schools are very different from public schools. However, there are some similarities and differences between public and private school teachers.
In private school teachers get higher payment than public school, so teachers work harder in searching any useful techniques or materials to teach students. They care only the quality of education; particularly teachers have enough time to create something new for students. According to the parents' observation, private school teachers provide enough study materials, time; moreover, teachers are very creative. For instance, teachers provide more task and exercises for students, teachers do more research for significant materials for classroom's activities and teachers spend more time on students' work. Teachers are also creative in term of making new study materials to explain or make students understand lessons better. In private schools, most teachers use student-centered approach so that students can learn the lessons better.
Studying in private schools, students also have enough time to practice exercises, do experiment, adapt themselves to the society and learn to apply the theory into practice. In the class, students can practice exercises more accurately than public schools. Then experimental practice is also applied in some related subjects within private school. Students learnt to adapt themselves to the society and community through the programs set by the school such as study tours to Tamao Mountain, Water Park, National Museum and other resorts. According to the study tours, the students can also apply what they have learnt at school into real practice. One of the four parents has examined the factor that makes his daughter happy and wants to enroll school is study tour. Through the study tours, students can socialized themselves to the groups as well as their peers.
Furthermore, the school also assigns teachers to contact to parents about the students' progress or comment from teachers. Teachers can contact directly to parents immediately when something wrong happen to the students. For example, when students don't attend class or fight with other students or any problem related classroom's disciplines, teachers usually call their parents to inform them about the problem. Then the problem can be solved immediately. Teachers call to parents not only when students have problem, but they also call to praise the students when they have done the task well. Parents show their satisfaction towards the school's policy by calling to parents.