Birds are creatures that love and cherish their young ones very much. Starting from the time a bird lays eggs; it takes good care of its young ones and protects them from any danger. As if that is not enough, when it has hatched it fetches food for the young ones. As they grow the bird mother teaches the little ones how to fly and also to be independent to find food on their own for themselves. It teaches them how to flee from danger and also how to associate with other birds. If birds get involved in the life of its young ones, protect and provide for its needs and teach them to be independent, what more human beings? Do parents get personally involved in the education of their children? Or should the whole responsibility of education be left in the hands of teachers?
In Malawi, many factors affect how the students perform in school and the quality of education they are suppose to get in secondary schools. Peers, socioeconomical status, and background are some of the factors that affect performance and quality of education in secondary schools of Malawi. Due to these factors, students in secondary schools need a helping hand in their education. Teachers play the role of teaching and training them but this researcher thinks that parents and guardians have a role to play as well.
The responsibility of ensuring that the performance and quality of education is improving in secondary schools of Lilongwe; lies in the hands of not only the teachers but also parents and guardians. This research is dedicated to finding out if parental involvement has an effect on performance and quality of education in secondary schools of Lilongwe district.
The researcher bases her approach on the fact that a family does not only have a function of bearing children but also child rearing which include providing for their basic needs and most of all get involved in their education. In Malawi, many families believe that the moment they have given birth to a child, their job is done. Especially in villages, many families do not care about their children's education, whether they go to school or not. Education is a tool to success and it is very important in the lives of children and even the generations to come. A Brighter future of children is built through education; it builds them to what they want to be in future. For parents to get personally involved in education brings great impact on education itself and the children. Providing school fees and necessities is not enough, parents can do more than just providing these. If a family decides to educate their children, they must get ready to be personally involved in every step of the children's school. The question is; do families get involved in educating their children? What difference does it make?
The researcher thinks that personal involvement of parents has positively impacted education in secondary schools of Lilongwe by improving its quality and how students perform.
The responsibility of educating the children does not entirely depend on teachers but also parents. Lilongwe district has secondary school teachers who ensure that standards of education are improving now and then. On the other hand, there are also parents who have children doing secondary school education. Parents work with the secondary school teachers in the following areas: school management, checking the learning environment and implementation of the curriculum. Despite parents helping teachers in the above areas; the education standards in most of the secondary schools in Lilongwe are going down as evidenced by the results of both the Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) and Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE).
The problems resulting from many students failing may include: most parents either living in rural or urban areas of Lilongwe District do not care about the education of their children. In as much as they provide needs for the children, they do not personally get involved in it. However, it is the responsibility of parents to take note of how their children are performing at school and parents should work hand in hand with the teachers in this exercise. This is why this study seeks solicit views from parents if they are involved in the education of their children and if they are not, finding ways on how they can be involved.
Purpose of Study
This study is dedicated to finding if involvement of parents has an effect on the performance and quality of education in Lilongwe district.
Aims and Objectives
The aim is to assess how parenting impacts education in Lilongwe district with the objectives of finding out how parents get involved in education, discover problems that hinder parental involvement on education and the impact that parental involvement has on education.
Significance of the Study
This research is going to help students in secondary schools of Lilongwe district; parents and teacher to acknowledge the impact that parental involvement has on education and how they can work together to support learning, for the students to do better in school.
The researcher bases her approach on the fact that a family has functions of child bearing, child rearing, and socialization. Mrs. Banda, a lecturer at African Bible College defined socialization as the process by which persons acquire knowledge, skills and disposition that make them more or less integrated members of society. A family has responsibility of associating new members to fit into the community that they are to be found. One of the communities that new members will be found in is a school and a training place. George Knight (2006) in his book of Philosophy and Education said that. "The school is only one society's agents for learning, education, and training. The family, media, peer group, and church are some of other institutions that share this responsibility." (p. 12).
The process by which a family takes a responsibility of associating new members into the community is called parenting. One of the important sectors that parenting has a greater impact is education. Jeff white a professor at African Bible College while teaching Philosophy of Education Class stated that education is a directed learning. The first place where a new member of a family gets education is in a family through the process of parenting.
Jay Kesler (1997) in his book called 'Parents and Teenagers' said that. "Properly understood, the family and school form a partnership. Schools become bad or less good when parents are not involved." (p.628). A family plays a great role in the education of children for they work hand in hand in associating new members into a particular society.
Education is a tool to success and it is very important in the lives of children and even generations to come. A Brighter future of children is built through education; it builds them to what they want to be in future. For parents to get personally involved in education makes it more important and it has a great impact on education itself and even the children, providing accessories for school and providing basic needs for the children is not enough, parents can do more than just providing necessities. If a family has decided to educate their children, then they must get ready to be personally involved in it. The question is; do families get personally involved in educating their children? What difference does it make?
McCain and Mustard (1999) stated that school systems work with the children who come into them. The quality of children's lives before beginning formal education greatly influences the kind of learners they can be. Of course many elements go into making a quality learner. These include: healthy, early childhood experiences and home support. For example on early childhood psychosocial development experiences; studies that were done showed that positive early experiences and interactions are vital to preparing a quality learner. A large study that was conducted in 12 Latin American countries found that attendance at day care coupled with higher levels of parental involvement that includes parents to young children is associated with higher test scores and lower rates of grade repetition in primary school (Willms, 2000). Evidence from the Philippines, Srilanka and Turkey, has shown that children who participate in early interaction programs do better in primary school than those who do not benefit from formal early child programs and studies from India, Morocco and Latin America demonstrated that disadvantaged children benefit the most from such programmes (UNICEF, 1998).
Furthermore, Ansu Datta (1984) stated that, the contemporary issues concerning family and educations are: parents in rural areas depend on family for survival therefore it is hard for them to be involved education. Parents in urban areas are busy at work and they find it difficult to get involved in education (Datta, 1984, p.215). Therefore, this project will look much at the way in which parents get involved in education in Lilongwe district and how each way help in improving the quality of education.
The conclusion of a recent report from southwest educational development laboratory stated that when schools, families and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school and like school more. Another research of parent involvement over the decade finds that, regardless of family income or background, students with involved parents are likely to:
Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs
Be promoted, pass their classes and earn credits
Attend school regularly
Have better social skills, show improved behaviour, and adapt well to school and
Graduate and go on to post secondary education
(Henderson &Mapp, 2002, p. 103)
On the other hand, other researches on parental involvement on education show that schools must also play a role in encouraging parental involvement on education. According to the research by The National Network of Partnership Schools, it shows that parents who are involved in their children's education do not do it right. As a result, their effort to be involved in education is meaningless since it does not make any difference on the quality of education and on the performance of the students. Therefore, they suggested a framework of six types of parental involvement that schools can use to guide their efforts. It says schools can:
help families with parenting and child-rearing skills
Communicate with families about school programs and students progress and needs
Work to improve recruitment training, and schedules to involve families as volunteers in school activities
Encourage families to be involved in learning activities at home
Include parents as participants in important school decisions and the community
Ramirez Laura (2009) in his book of Children Native American Wisdom and Parenting recognized the importance of parental involvement and its effects on education. Nevertheless, Ramirez thought that there are some reasons that hinder parents to effectively get involved in their children's education. She states that, "â€¦Another reason your children might not see the need for you to be involved in his/her education is because you are busy with career and other daily chores or attending the home. You don't realize that does not meet the attention need of the children," (Ramirez, 2009, p.23). Any attention that parents may give towards their children's education has a great effect.
THE EFFECTS OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT ON CHILDREN'S HOMEWORK
Dobson James (1979) in his book ' The Strong Willed Child' gives and illustration of a child that parental involvement became of help to him after her mother neglected her that opportunity for some time. Dobson writes that, "...During the conversation bonnie reveals that she doesn't like school anyway, and she would rather stay home and play." As the story continues Bonnie's mother decided to help with Bonnies's homework and any school work that was supposed to be done at home. After that Bonnie performance at school improved and this is what Bonnie said, ".... school is fun and if offers to help me do my homework every day, I will stay in school." (Dobson, 1979, Pp.167-170). The smallest attention that parents may offer to their children's education, counts a lot towards the attitude that the children will have for school.
THE EFFECTS OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN THE CHILDREN'S SCHOOL ACTIVITIES AND MEETINGS
Furthermore, the involvement of parents in school activities and meetings are also important because it shows how much they are concerned with their children's education and how they perform at school. Phillips, Wiener & Haring (1965) in the book 'Discipline, Achievement and Mental Health' states that the need to work with parents is usually considered fundamental to the improvement of the child's behaviour from the classroom-or clinic, medical, youth organization, or any other-point of view. Parents may vary widely in their degree of insight, intelligence, motivation, or cooperativeness, but they have far more immediate continuous impact on the child's life than anyone else. They cannot be ignored in the effective solution of the problem anymore than in its diagnosis. On the whole we have found parents to be reasonable and effective assistants to the teacher in solving classroom problems, just as Psychotherapists usually find them essential participants in the treatment process. (Phillips, Wiener &Haring, 1965, Pp. 116-117).
SIGNIFICANCE OF PARENTS' INVOLVEMENT IN PROVIDING SCHOOL ACCESSORIES TO THEIR CHILDREN
Providing for the children's accessories for school is one way of parents getting involved in the education. As stated above that a family does not only have a role of bearing children but also taking care of them. Providing for their needs is one way of taking care of them and part of family management and this has an effect on education. Santrock John (2004) in his book of Educational Psychology states that, "Researchers have found that family management practices are positively related to students' grade and self responsibility, and negatively to school-related problems." Furthermore, Santrock states that, "Even though parents typically spend less time with their children as through elementary and secondary school, they continue to have a strong influence on children's development by providing for their needs. Parents also influence whether children participate in such activities as sports, music and other activities by the extent to which they sign up their children to such activities and encourage their participation." (Santrock, 2004, Pp. 84-85).
Despite parents being involved in various ways as stated above, but Santrock (2004) continues to say that, although children grow up in diverse families, in virtually every family parents play an important role in supporting and stimulating children's academic achievement and attitude towards school. The value parents place on education can mean the difference in whether children do well in school. Experienced teachers know the importance of getting parents involved in children's education. All parents, even those with considerable education, need yearly guidance from teachers in how to remain productivity involved in their children's education. (Santrock, 2004, p. 84).
One research on Parental Involvement on education (2004) concluded that almost all parents want their children to succeed in school, but need clear and useful information from their children's teachers and from other schools and district leaders in order to help their children develop their full potential. For example, sometimes parents ask their child, "how was school today?" We know that may end with the child responding "fine" or "Okay" and not much more. Parents should be guided, instead, to ask their child, "Would you read to me something you wrote today?" or "could you show me something you learned in math today?" (Anguiano, 2004, p, 89).
Santrock in contrasting the study made by 16,000 students stated that, "The students were more likely to get 'As' and less likely to repeat a grade or be expelled if both parents were highly involved in their schooling (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1997). In this study, high involvement was defined as the parent participation in three or four of the following: school meetings, a teacher conference, a class meeting, or volunteering. Other studies have found that students' grades and academic achievement are linked to parental involvement (Epstein, 2005; Sheldon & Epstein, 2005).