1. every child from the age of seven

1.   
BACKGROUND
TO THE STUDY

1.1  The Statement of the Research Problem

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Both
primary and secondary legislation which deals with school attendance in South
Africa is very clear on the role of parents and guardians in ensuring that
learners attend school without fail. In terms of South African law, as
enshrined in the Bill of Rights contained in the South African Constitution
(1996) and the South African Schools Act (No. 84 of 1996), it is a must that
every child from the age of seven to fifteen years attend school. Parents and
legal guardians of these children are compelled to make sure that they attend
school.

On the
contrary, while school attendance is mandatory for every child within the
school going age group, Jacobs, Vakalisa and Gawe (2016) lament that truancy is
one of the most serious and prevalent problem areas in South African Schools
and call for parents to be actively involved in addressing this problem. It
affects learners negatively in several ways. Among others, truancy causes some
gaps in the learners’ knowledge of basic concepts and content done in their
absence (Sheldon and Epstein, 2005). Such a gap can ultimately demoralise them
and prevent them from realising their full potential in life. Learners who do
not attend school are more vulnerable than other learners who always attend.
Their health and safety are always exposed to high levels of risk because they
get involved in activities that are socially unacceptable. McNeal further warns
that truancy makes learners to graduate from the school system without
mastering basic skills.

Manamela
(2015) and Jacobs et al (2016) warn
that learners’ intentional and wilful neglect of their school responsibilities
usually start as a type of protest action but if not controlled and properly
dealt with, it leads to delinquent lives, drug addiction and other forms of
social alienation (Maddock, 2014 and Sheldon and Epstein, 2005). It is
therefore imperative that parents are actively involved and collaborate with
schools in all efforts to deal with truancy, also noting that truancy has a
negative effect on the teaching and learning and learning process.

 

1.2  Research Questions

The
proposed study seeks to answer the following research questions,

v  What is
the role of parental involvement in dealing with truancy at Clocolan High
School?

v  How
can parents be involved in dealing with truancy at Clocolan High School?

v  How
does parental involvement affect truancy at Clocolan High School?

 

1.3  The Purpose of the study.

Dictated
by the research questions raised above, the purpose of this study is to explore
the role of parental involvement in the education of their children on truancy.
The study seeks to investigate and explain how parental involvement can be used
to curb truancy.

1.4  The Significance of the Study

The
significance of this study is manifested in the fact that it will illuminate on
the role of parents in dealing with truancy. It is anticipated that the study
will emphasise and increase public awareness on the importance of parental
involvement in the education of their children in addressing the problem of
truancy. Consequently, the beneficiaries of this study are going to be the
learners, educators and parents.

Learners
will benefit academically from improved school attendance as a result of
improved and more efficient parental involvement. Educators will no longer have
to go through the frustration of covering the syllabus in half filled
classrooms, knowing that those who are absent will bring down their pass rates,
thereby weakening the educators’ efforts in teaching and learning. Parents will
benefit from a crop of learners who are always at school and therefore likely
to pass, thereby ensuring their academic progression at school. Learners will
not drop out of school or fail their grades as a result of truancy.

1.5  Definition of Key Terms

1.5.1   
Parental
involvement

According
to Manamela (2015) and McNeal (2014), parental involvement is the participation
of parents in various school-based and home-based activities to enhance and improve
the education of their children. On the other hand, Kruger (2006) views it as
support which parents give to schools, usually in the form of cooperation and
participation, thereby creating a strong partnership.

A more
compelling and comprehensive definition is offered by Lemmer, Meier and van Wyk
(2009) who define parental involvement as a complex and dynamic process in
which parents and educators work together for the learners’ ultimate benefits.
This process includes cooperating and collaborating on educational issues, goal
setting, finding solutions, implementing, monitoring and evaluating shared and
collective educational goals as well as promoting and maintaining trust between
the school and the home.

All
the above versions of parental involvement will be applicable in this study.

1.5.2   
Truancy

Chang
and Romero (2008), Seeley, (2006) and the National Center for Mental Health
Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention are in agreement that truancy is when a
learner is absent from school without any excuse from the parent or guardian of
if the learner leaves the school or class without any permission from the educator
or any person in the school who is duly authorised to grant such permission to
the learner.

1.6  Delimitation of the Study

Dealing
with truancy is regarded as a management function of the school which is a sole
responsibility of educators, parents, the School Governing Body and School
Management Team. As such, the envisaged study will be classified under the
branch of Educational Management.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.   
REVIEW
OF RELATED LITERATURE

2.1  Introduction

The
purpose of this chapter is to present a synthesis of literature which is
related to truancy and parental involvement. The discussion has been structured
according to the research questions raised earlier in the Background of this
study. Literature review serves as a signpost which guides the researcher in
identifying relevant study findings from previous investigations which can
assist in answering the research questions.

2.2  The role of parental involvement in
dealing with truancy

Maddock
(2014) notes that the problem of truancy is a two-way problem between the home
and the school.  Therefore, both parties
have some equally significant roles to play towards addressing truancy. To this
effect, Epstein (2002) points out that dealing with the high levels of truancy and
chronic absenteeism has been and still remains a goal of many schools and
education systems globally. The upcoming paragraphs will now explain and
discuss the role of parental involvement in dealing with truancy. They will
also discuss how parents can collaborate and partner with educators and schools
to curb truancy.

As
demonstrated in the study findings of a considerable number of investigations,
parental involvement has been touted as a possible solution and remedy to deal
with and reduce truancy (Avvisati, Gurgand, Guyon and Maurin, 2010; McNeal,
2014; Manamela, 2015; Van Denventer and Kruger, 2009; Maddock, 2014; Altschul,
2011; Sheldon and Epstein, 2005; Loomans, 2014 and Rogers, 2009). According to
McNeal (2014), parental involvement practices differentially affect learners’
attitude and behaviour such as truancy.

Manamela
(2015) notes that the absence of adequate parental involvement in the education
of their children is one of the most serious challenges faced by most
principals and educators which has culminated in high levels of truancy.  Considering the above claims, Lemmer et al (2009) point out that apart from
promoting and supporting learners’ learning, performance at school and their
overall well-being, parental involvement also decreases truancy.

In
addition, Van Denventer and Kruger (2009), further remark that parental
involvement can potentially reduce truancy and foster a more positive attitude
towards schooling among learners. In support of the remarks made by Van
Denventer and Kruger (2009), Manamela (2015) notes that for learners to attend
school on a regular basis, there is a need to have effective cooperation and
collaboration between parents, educators, the school and all members in the
community within which the school is located. In the same vein, Rogers (2009)
note that when parents are actively involved in the education of their
children, learners tend to develop a sense of initiative and accountability in
their teaching and learning activities. Consequently, they are inclined to
attend school and classes on a more regular basis.

Altschul
(2011) conducted a study which sought to investigate the role of parental
involvement on the education of Mexican American youths. The study findings
demonstrated that improved and effective parental involvement had drastically
reduced the levels of truancy among learners. It was reported that students
whose parents were more actively involved in their education showed high levels
of school attendance (Maina, 2008). The findings of this study were later
supported by Wanja (2014). An investigation carried out by Wanja (2014) found
parental involvement to be inversely related to truancy. Another investigation
carried out by Loomans (2014) into the benefits of parental involvement cited
improved school attendance as one of the main direct benefits of parental
involvement.

The
more parents were actively involved in the education of their children, the
less these children were likely to be truants. In support of the above
findings, Povey, Campbell, Willis, Haynes, Western, Bennett, Antrobus and Pedda
(2016) assert that school attendance improves significantly when parents are
actively involved in the education of their children. Simialrly, Van Wyk and
Lemmer (2009) observed that there is a positive relationship between parental
involvement and school attendance. McNeal further adds that parental
involvement has a direct effect on student outcomes such as truancy which are
associated with academic achievement.

Altschul
(2011) and Manamela (2015) argue that when parents are actively involved in the
education of their children, learners develop a more positive attitude and
interest in their school work and studies. As such, these learners will be
intrinsically motivated to attend school on a daily or regular basis. The
positive attitude and interest therefore act as motivating factor and push
behind their school attendance. On the contrary, when parents are not actively
involved, learners tend to lose interest in their studies and school work.
Consequently, they will always be absent from school because they see no reason
to attend school. In any case, their parents do not care, so they will also not
care.

Researchers
on parental involvement and school attendance are unanimous that when learners
know that their parents check their school books and progress on a daily basis,
they are more likely to attend school and adopt a more serious attitude towards
schooling and their studies (Van Denventer and Kruger, 2009; Loomans, 2014 and Rogers,
2009). Parents who are actively involved in the education of their children make
their children to account for their learning experiences at school. This
automatically creates and instils a culture of regular school attendance among
learners, thereby reducing truancy.

2.3  How can parents be involved in dealing
with truancy

McNeal
(2014) notes that parental involvement is a form of social capital in which
parents invest their resources such as time and attention with the expectation
that their children will perform better at school. For these learners to meet
the expectations of their parents, regular school attendance is compulsory.
Sheldon and Epstein (2005) and McNeal (2014) point out that parent-child
discussions and parent-monitoring are some of the most predominant
conceptualisations of parental involvement which can potentially reduce
truancy.

McNeal
(2014) in particular further points out that the theoretical dimensions
associated with parent-teacher discussions are well documented and established.
These include parents discussing school related topics with their children and
emphasising the significance of schooling. This ultimately improves the
learners’ attitude and expectations, forcing them to attend school regularly.
In this regard, McNeal points out that parent-child discussion directly reduces
truancy, just like parent-child monitoring.

According
Loomans (2014) and Maddock (2014) parents can help reduce truancy by
emphasising the importance of schooling to their children to ensure that they
attend school regularly. They also have an important role to play in monitoring
the learners and ensuring that they indeed attend school. Parents who give
their children incentives for school attendance and doing well academically
help to reduce truancy. Moddack (2014) maintains that through the effective use
of rewards, parents can certainly promote school attendance. Maddock (2014)
goes on to suggest that parents can make learners aware that they have a place
in their schools and are important stakeholders. Learners need to be made aware
that regular school attendance and engagement in teaching and learning
activities are necessary and important aspects of their roles as learners.

Another
conceptualisation of parent-child involvement looks at the extent to which the
parent is actually engaged in the life of their children and knowing the
whereabouts of their children. Furthermore, Sheldon and Epstein (2005) argue
that when parents closely monitor the academic progress of their children, the
behaviour of truancy and absenteeism is altered and discouraged (McNeal, 2014).
School situated educational support strategies which include the extent to
which the parents visit the schools and classrooms and speak with the educators
of their children have also been found to have a reducing effect on the levels
and prevalence of truancy. To this end, McNeal (2014) maintains that parental
involvement is likely to reduce truancy when the when strategies used for
parental involvement directly engage the learners as opposed to those that seek
to link the parent to the child’s educational environment.

Manamela
(2015) further warns that schools and educators cannot ensure that learners
attend school regularly as and when they are supposed to. Similarly, parents
will not know whether or not their children are indeed at school if there is no
effective cooperation and collaboration between all the stakeholders involved.
Therefore, to ensure that parents play an active role in dealing with truancy,
through their involvement in the education of their children, strong and
effective communication networks and channels are a prerequisite.

Parents
need to inform the school and relevant educators if their children are not
going to be at school and provide the necessary reason for such absenteeism.
Similarly, educators need to constantly communicate with parents every time a
learner is not at school or in the classroom (Maddock, 2014). It is very easy
for learners to loiter around between the school and the home if there is no
effective communication regarding the learners’ absenteeism between all the
stakeholders involved. Manamela (2015) and Maddock (2014) are in agreement that
such effective communication channels can be established through the use of
newsletters, telephones, emails and short messages.

Maddock
(2014) further suggests that record keeping by both parents and educators can
contribute towards reducing the problem of truancy in schools. Accurate records
on learner attendance and absenteeism should be kept for comparison and
reference purposes during parent meetings and other parents’ visits to the
school. This requires educators take daily class registers while parents are
also expected to find ways to record their children’s school attendance.

Povey et al (2016) note that parents can be
involved in the education of their children to deal with truancy by simply
showing interest in the schooling activities of their children. Maddock (2014)
suggest that parents can show interest in the education of their children by
asking them what they did or learnt at school. Furthermore, they should act and
serve as role models to their children and adopt a zero tolerance to truancy
and absenteeism.

According
to Van Denventer and Kruger (2009), parental involvement has a profound effect
on the culture of teaching and learning. Learners whose parents are more
actively involved in their education grow under and adopt a culture of
effective schooling and learning. One of the characteristics of a typical
culture of effective schooling and learning is regular school attendance.
Maddock (2014) maintains that parents play an important role in communicating
positive behaviour to the learners. Family culture and how the family view
schooling can contribute towards truancy. As such, parents need to always
positively view schooling in front of learners to promote school attendance.

Eastman,
Cooney, O’Connor and Small (2007); McNeal (2014) and Maddock (2014) agree that
parents should educate their children about the dangers and consequences of
truancy. They should warn their children about the legal implications and
ramifications of failing to attend school when they are legally obliged to do
so. Reuters suggest that parents increased parental involvement, family
mediation and counselling can drastically reduce truancy. Eastman et al (2007) add that parents and
communities can also work with schools and collaborate with them in setting
rules for school attendance and in enforcing these rules fairly and
consistently.

An
investigation conducted by Manamela (2015) on parental involvement in Kgakotlou
schools in Limpopo province revealed identified lack of parental involvement as
a major contributing factor for challenges such as truancy which were
experienced by the schools in that district. Furthermore, Maddock (2014) warns
that parents can create a negative perception about the school and schooling
which may ultimately discourage learners from attending school in future. For
instance, if a parent regards, discusses and blames the school of not doing,
showing or implementing curriculum practices that are meaningful, learners will
adopt a negative attitude about the school.

2.4  Summary of Review of Related Literature.

Parents
have an important role to play in dealing with truancy since they have to be
actively involved in all initiatives and attempts done by the schools and
educators to curb truancy. Parents can therefore contribute through actively
participating in monitoring the academic progress of their children, their
school attendance, emphasising the importance of schooling and the consequences
of truancy. Effective communication between the school and the home has also
been found to be an effective way through which parents can be involved in
towards addressing truancy.