This dissertation has been drafted in partial fulfillment for the requirement of the degree in BSC Applied Social Science. It reports on the results of a study carried out among students of selected ZEP Schools from Zone 1, who have failed at their first attempt to the CPE examinations.
Primary Education as the cornerstone of the educational system of Mauritius is compulsory and provided freely by the government. As per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, primary education the right of education is for everyone without any discrimination. According to the Department of Education and Science (1990), primary education is decisive for the development and progress within the education system. This is because it bestows the basic skills which are indispensable to secure employment, to interact with others and to enjoy a satisfactory living standard (OECD, 1992). Mauritius has achieved universal primary education which is one of the goals of the Millennium Development Goals since the early 1990's as primary education is free and compulsory.
1.2 Problem Statement
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Recently, major concerns have been raised by the government over the high rate of failure at 35% each year at the CPE examination leading to dropout from mainstream primary education. Although the government has tried to curtail this problem by establishing the 'Zones d'Education Prioritaires', very little is known about its underlying causes. No further quantitative studies have been carried out to analyse the variables leading to dropout from primary education. Consequently, the study will adopt a quantitative approach to investigate the causes of dropout problem among students at CPE level in selected ZEP schools from Zone 1.
1.3 Aim, Objective & Research Questions
In light of the above problem statement, the aim of this research is to investigate and study the factors which lead to the academic failure of students at CPE Level. Furthermore, the objective of the study is to analyse whether socio-economic factors have an impact on the overall academic performance of students at CPE Level. For this purpose, the present dissertation will focus on the following research questions.
How do the family factors such as parent's income and parent education affect the academic performance of a student at CPE Level?
What is the relationship between a child's family background and his academic success/failure?
What measures can be implemented at grass-root level to prevent students from dropout at CPE Level.
This dissertation will also attempt to test the following hypothesis:
1. Students' results are positively related with father's education level.
2. Students' results are positively related with mother's occupational status.
3. Students' results are positively related with parents' income level.
4. Students' results are positively related with family structure.
1.4 Outline of the Dissertation
The study is further organized as follows:
The introductory part is provided in Chapter 1 which details the background of and the research problem to the study as well as defines the research aims, objectives and research question.
Chapter 2 The introductory part is provided in Chapter one which details the background of and the research problem to the study as well as defines the research aims, objectives and research question.
Education finds its origin from the Latin word 'educare' which means 'to lead or draw out' (Pradhan, 2011). In other words, education helps to bring out or discover the interior unknown aptitude of an individual. Apart from developing the personality of a person by increasing his intelligence, courage and building a powerful character, the society also benefits through transmission of values and cultural heritage to the future generations. Consequently, the society also evolves to superior level of achievements.
From a sociological perspective, education, through the socialisation process by schools, transform students to ensure their integration in the society. Schools play an important role by helping them to accept their particular position along the social ladder (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1990). It is also well known to contribute considerably to the economy of a country. The significance of education to the development of a country has been expounded by the human capital and the signaling theory (O'Dubhslainé, 2006). The two theories try to explain how people with higher education level receive more income. As per Becker (1993), the main assumption underpinning the human capital theory is that schooling increases income and output principally by disseminating knowledge, ability and problem solving techniques. On the other hand, the signaling theory argues that education level transmit behavioural characteristics which are sought by employers.
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In developing a definition for education, many academics have adopted either the narrow or the broader sense. Under the narrow definition, education refers to instruction received in school where there is a structured way of imparting knowledge to student under a specified curriculum. Furthermore, the teachers are responsible to educate the children. According to Mill (n.d) cited by Singh (2008) school instruction helps to transmit the culture of a generation to the future descendants to make them eligible to sustain or to increase the level of development achieved. On the other hand, the broader meaning refers to education as a lifelong process where people are without restraint allowed to develop themselves by all experiences in their life. Any person by imparting their own experiences to children is considered to be a teacher. Earlier education was mainly transmitted under the broader definition. In India for example education was passed on from fathers to sons on how to manage the family and learn an activity to earn a living while mothers would teach their daughters on household chores and also would inculcate values and customs. However, with time the narrow definition of education has taken an overwhelming importance in society because having been to school or university with a certificate or degree enables to prove one's ability and to secure a well-paying job. Nevertheless for the purpose of the present study, the main focus will be on the narrow definition of education whereby the main factors affecting academic performance will be analysed.
2.2 Factors Affecting Education
There has long been debate around the determinants affecting education. According to Diaz (2003) research investigating what factors influence education have begin with three main aspects: School related, Student Related and Family Related. As per the study of Coleman on Equality of Educational Opportunity conducted in 1966, the effects of student background is more important than school factors. Ever since the study of, the socioeconomic status has been seen as a strong predictor of student education achievement (Thomas and Stockton, 2003).
2.2.1 School Factors, Bonding & Behaviour Problem
School factors also affect students' achievement at school under several aspects. According to the UNESCO (2006) the role of teachers is very important to enhance the quality of education of students. The academic development of the students is exclusively dependent on the ability of the teachers. Similarly, Tella (2008) found that teachers' dedication and self-efficacy greatly influence students' academic achievement in Mathematics while other attributes such as outlook, qualification and experience do not have any important impact on students. Furthermore, as stated by Gene and Smith (1978), based on the findings of 77 studies on class size, higher performance is normally achieved in groups of less than 20 students. Similarly, the US State Department of Education under the STAR project also came with the same findings and further stressed that with smaller size students perform better at even secondary and higher level. Nevertheless, Hanushek (2002) argued that decreasing the size of the class may be favourable only for certain pupils, educators and subjects. Additionally, Krueger (2002) stressed that the findings of the STAR project are more relevant for deprived minority students as compared to others.
School bonding or attachment emanates from the social control theory which argues that the bonding to ones family and school as well as the pledge to common goals and convictions are most important factors to foster a social attachment (Hirschi, 1969). Furthermore, Hawkins and Weis (1985) who coined school bonding argue that it encompasses also the bonding to friendly peers, pledge to achieve academic goals at school and faith in the established norms. Students who succeed in establishing a positive attachment with their school are in a better position to adopt friendly attitude and behaviours and thus attain higher academic performance than those who do not maintain such relationship. On the other hand, they rather engage in fighting, bullying, playing truant games or acts of vandalism and even substance use. Thus, by establishing a bonding with the school the students able to develop further by acquiring the necessary social abilities and proficiencies which enhances the school environment and promote appropriate parenting practice (Schaps and Battistich, 1991). As discovered by Simons-Morton, Crump, Haynie and Saylor (1999) discovered that the bonding that children have with their school is intrinsically related to behaviour problem which are reflected by their poor academic achievement. They also argue that such bonding may be developed through better social skills and capability, enhancing school environment and better parenting practices. Thus, if students hold optimistic outlook towards their school, they may be shielded from disruptive behaviour.
2.2.2 Peer Group
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Despite researchers like Hanushek (1971) who argued that peer groups have little impact on the academic performance of students others have instead discovered that they have considerable effect. According to Castrogiovanni (2004) peer groups not only provide autonomy, support to overcome difficulties and affirming their identity but also enable students to learn to communicate and forge friendly relationship with others. DeRosier, Cillessen, Coie and Dodge (1994) found that students who were rejected by their peers faced considerable negative results on their academic performance through higher rate of absenteeism. According to Johnson (2000) using the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress database found that peer stance towards educational performance significantly influences the reading ability of students. Consequently, at fourth grade peer attitude is a determining predictor of reading outcomes of students while at eighth grade peer impacts on social conduct is more significant. According to Figlio (2007) peer disruptive behaviour is linked with a greater probability that the student is suspended as well as a decline in test marks. Betts and Zau (2004) found that the academic performance of peers significantly affect students' achievement in mathematics and reading ability at primary level. Thus, if the peers do better academically it leads increases the individual student's educational gain while a fall in peer performance reduces the gain to the student.
2.2.3 Student Factors & Early Attention Problem
Furthermore, personal student factors such as motivation are also important predicators of academic achievement. According to Skinner and Belmont (1993) cited by Tucker, Zayco and Herman (2002) motivation is also called as engagement which means the students' investment and attachment in their studies. Consequently, students who lack motivation to achieve academic success will not invest themselves in their studies. According to Tucker et al (2002) motivation alone directly influences educational performance while other causes and the all other factors affect achievement only through their effect on motivation. According to the Achievement Goal Theory there are two major ways that motivation influences success at school. Firstly, through learning goals students will perform extensive and systematic evaluation of information leading to enhanced performance at school. Secondly, performance goals where the students focus on demonstrating their ability by improving their test scores (Covington, 2000). Furthermore, the attribution theory suggests that students are more affected by what they considered to be the cause of their prior success or failure rather than current experience.
Furthermore, according to Duncan et al (2007) attention problems during early childhood determined the student's academic performance for primary school while emotional problems and disruptive behaviour did not have any influence. However, this study is limitative since it investigated on the effects of attention problem only till the end of primary school. The implications of these results are limited by the fact that the data come from studies that followed children only for 5 years, to the end of primary school and thus does not indicate the effect after primary school. Nevertheless, as highlighted by Breslau et al (2009) if a student suffers from attention problems during early years of schooling, he/she may have very poor academic results starting from lower classes and these adverse impacts will be multiplied by the low educational performance as they have to move towards higher expectations at higher classes. Thus, with problems to concentrate in the class or to do their homework, they become less capable learner in contrast to normal students (Schweitzer et al, 2000). With the lack of learning capacity at lower classes impede on the students' aptitude to attain proficiency for advanced level mathematics and reading capability. This may also diminish the expectations of not only the students themselves but also that of their teachers and family as well. Eventually, students who have low performance may be demoralized to try to work hard to succeed and look upon other interests like alcohol or even drugs and consequently dropout from school.
2.2.4 Socio-Economic Factors
According to Ainley, Graetz, Long and Batten (1995) socioeconomic status refers to an individual's comprehensive social position as a result of the accomplishment of both the social and economic aspect. The analysis of Sui-Chu and Douglas (1996) on eighth grade students in the United States revealed that the influence of parents' socioeconomic status positively significant on their involvement in their children's education. When related to the school achievement of students, studies refer to the Socio-Economic Status of the parents or family which is established by the parents' income, education and occupational status.
According to the cultural deprivation theory as the working class people have an inferior culture from those from the upper class, they tend to have low performance at school. Thus, children with lower culture do not have the necessary the abilities, mind-set ability and principles for high academic performance. These children are both culturally and financially deprived. Oscar Lewis (1966) cited by Haralambos and Holborn (2008) formulated the cycle of poverty where by argued that to face poverty the poor people create a different sub-culture which deprives their children at school. Hence, children having grown with such values are not psychology fit to take advantage of opportunities that may occur. However, the cultural deprivation theory has been criticized because it blames the working class for their children's educational failure without really focusing on problems with school and society. It also considers that the culture of the poor is deficient which is instead different from the upper class.
Bourdieu (1971) cited by Haralambos and Holborn (2008) describes cultural capital as the ownership of culture which reproduces the values and interest of the dominant classes. This is because cultural capital may be transformed through the education system into wealth and authority. However, this capital is unequally disseminated across the classes. Children from the upper-class have an advantage over those from the lower class which account for their higher achievement. Bourdieu argues that the education system favours the culture of the upper class and undervalues the intellectual capacity and skills of the lower class. Consequently, only those with dominant culture are considered and assisted by the teachers at school who also hold similar culture.
Income of the parents is intrinsically connected their children's education: when they are admitted at school, their regularity at school and if they withdraw or dropout from school. Often the parents at the bottom of the social ladder have lesser demand for education than those at the top because the associated expenses are far from their reach (Colclough, Rose and Tembon, 2000). Using five biennial NLSY child data 1986-1994, the study of Bradley, Corwyn, McAdoo and Coll (2001) has revealed that low-income earners parents are not only unable to invest adequately in the education of their children but also face difficulty to assist their children with their homework. A direct relationship has been highlighted between financial resources and the cognitive capacity and academic achievement of children by certain researchers to explain the impacts of lack of income. Similarly, Duncan, Yeung, Brooks-Gunn, and Smith (1998) using data from longitudinal survey of 5,000 U.S. house-holds studied the relationship between parent income and education of their children. They claimed that the poor educational achievement of deprived children results from the lack of understanding, facilities, or monetary capacity to acquire learning materials. Using the econometric analysis, Maurin (2002) studied the impact of parent income and the likelihood of staying in primary school in France. It was found that if parents' income is increased by 10%, there will be around 2 6.5 point less likely for students to stay back in primary school.
Going further, Becker (1993) while agreeing that income has an effect on education, they have disputed that the educational performance of student is rather influenced by the expense preference of their parents. The motivation to spend on education is influenced by several factors such as number of children, government spending on education and pecuniary benefits for the family from the investment. They believed that in spite of lack of income, low-income parents who greatly value their children will sacrifice and invest more in their education. The perception that their children will bring more revenue and will support them in their old age, these parents will invest more on education while the coming of another child in low-income families dilutes the financial resources available for the every child. Nevertheless, Heckman and Masterov (2004) argued that regardless of the benefits of schooling, students from low-income families tend to receive lesser education. Thus, despite their willingness to invest in the study of their children, their inability to do so results in poor achievement at school as well as shorter time spent at school because the lack of adequate facilities, they dropout from school.
To challenge the view of the earlier literature as depicted above, Carneiro and Heckman (2003) put forward that the present revenue of parent does not elucidate learning choices of the children. They also argue that providing bridging tuition and financial support has little impact to reduce the gap in attendance at school. Instead the family fixed effects like parents' education which add to permanent revenue have more positive function. Using the same method Chevalier and Lanot (2002) reached the same conclusion, that is, they discovered that financial aid has not significant positive effect on schooling investment. Thus, income has limited impact on children education while the family attributes mainly the education of parents is more predominant.
Parents' level of education
It is generally recognised that education level of the parents is the most consistent factor affecting their children's' education because it influences the parents interest and contribution. Students with parents having lower education status are likely to considerably perform poorer than those whose parents have higher level of education. When parental education is assessed collectively, Poston and Falbo (1990) highlights that highly learned parents are more likely to converse and interact with their children according to their academic development which cultivate their children to a constructive learning and greater educational achievement. Furthermore, the study of Lockheed, Fuller and Nyirogo (1989) revealed that high grades in Mathematics were acquired by students whose both parents have high education level. They even argued that parent's education level is a central factor in promoting parental involvement in the studies of their children. Thus, parents with greater educational background have higher educational aspirations and motivations for their children which help their offspring to achieve better educational achievement. On a similar wavelength, Kaplan, Liu and Kaplan (2001) cited by Tutwiler (2005) investigated on the relationship between parental self-feelings and educational level with their children aspirations and educational performance. They found that students whose parents were highly educated despite not conveying high academic expectations may be positively affected through more facilities. On the other hand, students with parents poorly educated do not enjoy have these facilities. Another study by Balli, Demo and Wedman (1998) to investigate on the involvement of parents in assisting their children in studies, showed that poorly educated parents face troubles in assisting their children with homework and need help from schools.
However, analysing the factors influencing the education of grade six students, Nannyonjo (2007) found that highest increase in test scores was secured by students whose fathers had a university degree and that the fathers' education had a greater impact. Similarly, Sewell and Shah (1968) discovered that the influence of paternal education was somewhat greater than maternal education on perceived parental support in children's education but both paternal and maternal education have a similar outcome for females. This is at least true for children with high intelligence while for those with low intelligence it is rather maternal education which has more influence in educational ambition and performance. Baker and Stevenson (1986) found that more educated mothers have greater interaction with the school, monitoring the achievement of their children and they encourage them to pursue further studies. Thus, more educated parents accord considerable significance to the education of their children by being fully involving in their studies. However, there seem to be disagreement on which parent education affect more the education of their children.
Parents' Occupation status
Bradley and Corwyn (2002) argued that parents who are high income earners, highly learned employed in highly valued job can afford to acquire educational facilities which assist in the development of their children. The study of Checchi and Salvi (2010) on Ghana, Mauritania and Uganda has revealed that parent occupation status has an effect their children enrollment in school. In Ghana there is some indirect correlation between the likelihood of enrolment and low paid jobs. In Mauritania, they found that the dearth of resources as inversely linked with enrolment at school while in Uganda parents face financial hardship in the education of their children where they rely mainly of transfer payment. Checchi and Salvi (2010) also found that around one third of the unemployed in Uganda were performing unpaid family occupation. Consequently, inactive members constitute additional burden on the household financial burden and dilutes the financial resources of the family and force students to dropout from school. Gottfried et al (1994) cited by Yunos and Talib (2009) found that children aptitude, academic performance, encouragement and development were affected by the occupation status of their parents. They revealed that that higher occupational status correlates with higher attainment, ambition, and motivation in parents which translate into greater parental involvement in children education.
Vandell and Ramanan (1992) investigating on the effect of working mothers in low-income families, found that there are positive influence on reading and mathematics grades. Nevertheless, one must be cautious when interpreting this finding depending on whether there is a financial need for mothers to take a job. According to Beyer (1995) the educational outcome of children from families in need of money is more ensured by the employment of their mothers. This is because the contribution of additional salary by mothers improves their monetary security which increases the ability of investing more in the education of their children. Instead when there is no such requirement, leaving children unsupervised after school may lead to negative effects of maternal employment on children's education. As indicated by Muller (1995) when eight graders are not properly supervised after school given that their mothers are in employment, they secure lower grades in mathematics. The relationship between maternal employment and education of their children has been shown to be different for boys and girls.
Gold and Andres (1978) showed that when mothers from middle and lower class families were in employment, their son secured lesser grades in language and mathematics and did not like studying at school (Montemayor and Clayton, 2001). Contrastingly, Hoffman (1980) stated that the employment status of mothers has positive effects on their daughters (Montemayor and Clayton, 2001). This difference occurs because when boys receive independence, they are more likely to be victim of negative peer influence while with the same freedom girls achieve better grades at school. According to Montemayor and Clayton (2001) this is because girls have the advantage of their mothers being of the same-sex role models of ability and attainment and the lack of the compensating advantage renders boys more exposed to the negative consequences of their mothers' employment status.
2.2.5 Family Background
Closely related with the socio-economic status of parents, the family background such as family structure and size are also known to influence educational achievement.
Family structure has frequently been broadly described as intact and non-intact families (Carter, 1999). Several studies have viewed children from non-intact families to achieve poorer at education. McLanahan and Sandefur (1994) cited by Ginther and Pollak (2004) discovered that children from single-parent families and from stepparents have poorer academic performance than those who grow up with both biological parents. Another study by Biblarz and Raftery (1999) shown that students living with their biological two-parents or a highly qualified and professional single-mother have better academic performance than those staying with a stepparent or a single father. They construed their results as compatible with the evolutionary psychology theory which conceives that mothers are more concerned about the welfare of their children than fathers. The research of Boggess (1998) revealed an adverse and strong link between being cared after by a stepfather and academic performance. Furthermore, Teachman, Paasch, Day and Carver (1996) argued the probability of dropping out from school was greater for students from single-parent and step families than those in two-parent families. These studies seem to suggest that students with intact families or with highly educated mothers have better educational prospects.
Some academics like Evenhouse and Reilly (2004) have discovered that family structure has a considerable impact on the education of the children while Gennetian (2005) located no major impacts on the cognitive and educational performance of children. Similarly, Biblarz and Raftery (1999) even demonstrated that the relationship between the educational performance of children and their family structure weakens substantially when control variables like parents' income or mother's education level are incorporated. In studying the differences of scores of students from two-parents, step and single-parent families, Shim, Felner and Shim (2000) discovered that family structure did not explain these disparities instead the main indicator was the perception of the pupils of their parents educational expectations. Thus, pupils whose parents have greater educational aspirations are more likely to secure better scores irrespective of family structures. However, the study also revealed that there is a significant number of pupils from single or step parent, who perceived that their parents have poorer aspirations, which added with the stress they suffer at school lead to adverse impacts on performance.
According to Hanushek (1992), using the quantity-quality model argued that greater families diminished the children educational capacity. Studies have been concentrated on the financial constraints which larger family size creates. For Becker and Lewis (1973) the bigger size of the family adversely impacts on investment for children growth because of financial dilution. Rosenzweig and Wolpin (1980) came to the conclusion that family size has detrimental effects on the education of children because additional child will decrease child quality while a reduction in family size through birth control will increase education levels of children in India.
Nevertheless, Black, Devereux, and Salvanes (2005) in applying controls for birth order found that family size has no fundamental consequences on education. Similarly, Angrist, Lavy, and Schlosser (2006) discovered that there are no adverse effects of family size on children education. Nonetheless, instead of adverse effect, existing children may gain from extra siblings if they reduce the possibility of maternal employment (Mogstad and Wiswall, 2009). This is because with the coming of additional child, the mother will have to increase her caring time for that offspring. As seen earlier the employment status of the mother may have adverse effects on the children's education.
However, Razzaque and Streatfield (2001) citing Lloyd (1994) established that the correlation between family size and education is influenced by more general socio-economic, political and cultural factors of the society. For example, the government or other members of family contribute to expenses of the children's education.
2.3 Education System in Mauritius
Based on the English System, education system in Mauritius consists of different level: pre-primary, primary, secondary, vocational/technical and tertiary level. The pre-primary level comprises of two years to facilitate the transition to primary level. Under the primary level, at the end of the six years of primary schooling, students sit for the CPE examination prepared by the MES. Following successful completion of the CPE examination, students are enrolled on the five years secondary level which leads to the SC or the GCE-O Level. With a supplementary two years, students sit for the HSC or GCE-A Level which enables them to gain admission to the tertiary education. Unsuccessful students, below the age of 12, at the CPE examination may sit for a second chance while those are still unsuccessful are admitted to pre-vocational schools.
Under the primary education, there are 305 primary schools with around 116,068 students out of which 51 % were boys and 49 % were girls in 2011 (CSO, 2011). Around 12,493 teachers are employed to work in the primary schools. The gross enrollment ratio at the primary education in Mauritius was 100 % and the pupil/teacher ratio has been estimated to be 27 in 2011. In 2011, around 23,176 students sat for the C.P.E examination (MES, 2011c).  According to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, it has been noticed that every year too many students do not succeed at the CPE Examination despite the compulsory six years of primary schooling. The more recent figures indicate that about 35% of children fail the CPE level and consequently dropout from the primary education (Bunwaree, 2011). Consequently, they do not meet the minimum adequate standards in literacy and numeracy as required for further studies or work. In order to help students from poor Socio-Economic regions, the government had launched in 2002 the 'Zones d'Education Prioritaires' (ZEP) with the objective of lessening inequalities and give equal chances to all student in primary education to succeed.
Using empirical evidence published by the Mauritius Examination Syndicate for the CPE Examination for the year 2011 shows considerable contrasting performances between ZEP and other Schools. The pass rate in ZEP school was only 28.7 % of pass for boys and 42.7 % for girls (MES, 2011b). In 2010 the performance of boys was 30.3 % which was slightly higher than in 2011 while for girls it was 42.7 % which remain the same in 2011 (MES, 2010a). In the other schools the performance of students is much higher ranging from around 60 % to 100% in 2011 (MES, 2011a). Similarly, in 2010 these schools' performance was within the same above range (MES, 2010b). Consequently, this shows that students coming from middle and higher income families tend to perform better than those in lower income families. This is because the ZEP schools are located in poorer regions of Mauritius with majority of students from lower income groups.
Similarly, in Zimbabwe the performance of students from urban schools is higher than those in rural schools. As revealed by the Herald (2011) the performance of students in rural schools have remained very low while students from urban schools has been very high because of better teacher benefits and higher rate of attendance. In Tanzania at there is a disparity at the Primary Education Leaving Certificate between schools in rural and urban regions where the enrollment rate for girls is as low as 25 % but in city areas it is around 75 % (Assad & Claussen, 2010). Clearly, there is a gender bias whereby parents do not send their daughters to study because it is not worthwhile and too expensive since they live in extreme poverty. They prefer that they help in the household chores while the parents in urban areas not only recognize the importance of education but also have the ability to invest more in the education of their daughters. According to RIPPLE Africa (2012), the pass rate at primary education in rural areas is merely 15 % in Malawi. The reason is because despite primary education is provided freely, school materials are to be purchased by the parents who are extremely poor. As per the UNESCO, only 58% of students achieve the primary education and around school 20% repeat the examination because they were absent from school too long as a result of family constraints (RIPPLE Africa, 2012). According to OECD (2009) pupils in many countries  in urban schools have higher performance of 45 score points in reading than those in rural areas. The greatest variation was examined in Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan and Panama where the disparity was around 80 score points.
2.4 Certificate of Primary Education in Mauritius
Chinapah (1983) investigated on the inequalities and achievement at primary education. The study acknowledged that the disparity in achievement in primary school was mainly the result of socio-economic factors. The white paper on education revealed that those students at the bottom of the social ladder were at a considerable disadvantage given that there is fierce competition at CPE level in favour of those who can afford for private tuition (Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, [MOESR], 1984). Thus, the abuse of private tuition to gain admission in star colleges, results in the success of the richer segment in Mauritius. On the other hand, students from lower socio-economic background already lagging behind in the rat race find immense difficulty to catch up and eventually dropout unsuccessfully from school.
A more recent survey conducted in 1991 by the Mauritius Examination Syndicate with the support of the UNICEF on the major determinants of failure at CPE level also concluded a major link with socio-economic backgrounds of students (Manrakhan, Vasishta, Vadamootoo, 1991). Higher socio-economic status of parents was seen to increase the involvement of parents and students in their education which eventually help the students to be successful at the CPE level. On the other hand, students coming from low socio-economic background were not successful. The poor performance in the suburban regions was mainly the result of poverty, family and social achievement as a result of social exclusion. These students studying in schools with unsatisfactory reputation and lack of facilities lose their motivation to try to achieve better results and no proper interaction between school and parents. Consequently, students were found to be failing at school because of lack of parents' involvement, low interest of students in studies and lack of supplementary educational amenities. Furthermore, the students and teachers were found to be absenting  themselves too much from school which led to negative attainment at CPE.
As it can be seen there is a dearth of research investigating on the factors affecting educational achievement at CPE level in Mauritius. However, the few academic perspectives available have all attributed socio-economic factors as main determinants affecting education. Parent Income, Education and Occupational status intertwined together to form socio-economic background which either gives or restricts access to education. Furthermore, in Mauritius family background could also play an important role as seen in the previous reviewed literature outside Mauritius. Family structure and Family size act may either act as financial constraint or security or the proper support to succeed in education. For example, with two-parent families students have financial security, family stability and support which influence their education. On one hand, family size may reduce considerably the investment which parents may devote to each child while on the other it may help positively because with more children, the mother has to devote more time for the children. This reduces the likelihood that she will take employment which as seen may have adverse effect on children education due to lack of maternal supervision and care. Being unsuccessful at CPE leads to dropout from school without numeracy and literary skills required to find employment or even to become self-employed, these students are left to roam unskilled and unemployed. Given that CPE is the center and passport to get admission for pursuing secondary education, these students will continue to be victims of the vicious circle of poverty and social exclusion. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to analyse the socio-economic factors and family background affecting educational achievement at CPE. With regards to the family background, family structure and family size have been chosen.