A case study of parental involvement in basic education in rural Ghana
thesisposted on 2023-06-09, 05:25 authored by Robert Andrews Ghanney
This study explores parental involvement in basic education in two school communities in rural Ghana. There has been relatively little previous research on parental involvement in school governance in Ghana generally and in poorer rural areas in particular. In such contexts, the term ‘parent’ often extends beyond the biological parent to wider family and community networks and in this research, parental involvement is understood as a construct and practice that is both contextually located and produced through the intersecting spheres of influence between school, family and community (Epstein, 1995, 2001). The study starts from an understanding that when it comes to parental involvement in rural Ghana, there is a continuum of involvement that begins with basic decisions such as whether to send a child to school or not. It also recognises the importance of relational matters and issues of equity (Baquedano-Lopez, Alexander and Hernandez, 2013). Developed as a small-scale qualitative case study, focus group discussions and individual interviews were used to explore the inter-relationships between parents, staff and communities. The decentralised system of education delivery in Ghana assumes an important role for school management committees and parent teacher associations and the focus group discussions therefore involved community participants who were members of school management committees or parent teacher associations as well as head teachers and teachers in each of the two rural case study schools. Additional data were collected from individual interviews with parents. A key finding of the study was that although the formal structures for parental engagement in school governance were in place, in practice many members of the school management committee were unable to contribute fully to school management. The specific barriers to parental involvement unearthed in the study included socioeconomic factors such as the cost of equipping children to attend school but also the loss of income to the family. The practice of corporal punishment was identified as a potential source of misunderstanding between parents and school authorities and as something that could discourage involvement. Tensions in school governance situations also arose from the use of the English language. The study concludes that policies designed to encourage parental involvement in school governance must reflect not only important contextual differences but also the dynamics between structures and participants.
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InstitutionUniversity of Sussex
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