According to Park(2007) ” societies throughout the world, family has played an important role in supporting and providing resources to family members.” Centuries and till some decades back the care of the children did not lie on the sole shoulders of the child bearers.
Growing in an extended family in those days provided the children with full support in every way: be it in terms of values, norms, beliefs, basic support like food,affection and education. The children knew that they could rely on their grandparents, uncles and aunts for advice and help. Children raised in a family by close ones or by loved ones proved to be self-assured, were more affirmative of themselves and had a better self-esteem. With time and modernization the nuclear family replaced the extended family. Children were left more on their own or in the hands of caregivers. With new facilities and development emerged a new trend of parenting known as single parenting.
Single parent may be depicted as a family which consists only of either a mother or father to take care of the child or children. According to Fields (2006) “single parent families may be described as those families that have only one member of the parents being represented and not both the parent and conventionally, this may imply that either the father or the mother is absent and the children are brought up by the other parent.”
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The family is said to be the most important agent of socialization, especially for children. Parents are often said to be the first and best teachers children have. However some children are not enough lucky to benefit the support of two parents. Families fulfill an important function in every society. Generally, a family provides a child with opportunities to develop into a stable and independent person, for instance, through enabling the child to attend school. The future success of children thus greatly depends on the household they grow up in. Nevertheless, a child is not in the position to choose its own family and has to accept if its family is not capable of offering him or her the best opportunities.
Over the past decades pupils’ poor academic performance has become the main concern of many stakeholders in the educational field around the world as well as in Mauritius. According to various research studies that have been carried, numerous factors were revealed which impact the education of the children in the primary such as the socio-economic background of the children, children cognitive abilities, school climate, home environment or the support provided by parents.
Schools are known to help children grow healthily among adults who are educators, headmasters or other adults whom they come across in the school settings. They get the opportunity to develop their social skills, interpersonal skills other than cognitive skills while learning and playing among their classmates. Though school is an enriching platform to develop the cognitive potential of the children, the importance of parents cannot be ignored as they not only shape the character and personality of their children but also help them to cope better and improve their academic performance at school.
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
Education is considered to be a great equalizer in our society and parents’ role is central in the education and success of their children so that they be able to develop to their full potential. Family is known to be the first role models and initiators of their children in the society. According to Jacques Delors (1996, pg17) “education is at the heart of both personal and community development. It has been found that children, mainly in primary schools are more prone to be affected academically and emotionally owing to their tender age and lack of maturity especially when they do not get full support from both parents.” Children who have only a single parent due to the demise of one of them, divorce or separation do not perform well academically and even have lacking’s in terms of values.
Single parenting though a worldwide ‘headache’ is also becoming a new trend in our Mauritian society with many single mothers who are unprepared to take and face challenges in the society. A child out of wedlock becomes more of a burden to these young mothers who do not get the financial support or other shared responsibilities from their partners. Very often these children are left on their own as their parents have to cater them financial support. They are left on their own with their homework and do not get enough assistance with their school work or this can also be in terms of nutrition which affect not only the health of these children but their output in class compared to those kids who get the full support of two parents.
“Parenthood is challenging enough even under the best of conditions. Single parenting in our society has been the focus of much interest and research in recent years” states (Chiemelie Ezeobi 2011). In fact, the effects are more devastating on the part of the children because single parenthood leaves them with deep scars.”
Many of the problems that single parents have, are similar to those of two parents family, but these problems seems more difficult to bear or manage when the home is being shouldered by only one person. For example, all children feel hostile towards their parents as they grow-up and try to be independent. But in a situation, where the anger and rebellion are all directed towards one person, it may seem worse, if there is only one to bear it, not for the two to share.
This study is mainly carried to find out how single parenting can impact the education of their children in their early school life which is the basic foundation of their future success in life. According to Park and Kim (2011)” parental involvement is supposed to positively affect children’s educational outcomes.”
1.4 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The main aim of the study is to find out how single parenting impacts the education of their children in their primary school years and to look for solutions to integrate them in the normal setting of the class so that they grow up with full potential like their classmates. There exists a close relationship between the educational achievement of a learner and the support provided by parents.
1.41 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were asked to serve as guide to the study:
1 .How does educational level of single parents impact children’s education in primary schools?
2. How far does single parents’ occupation impacts children’s education in primary school?
3. What strategies can be used to help these children at school?
1.42 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
In this research the main objective is
To investigate to which extent single parenting educational level impacts children’s education in the primary compared to those having both parents,
To assess how far single parents’ occupations influence children’s performance at school.
To suggest means and ways at school level, at the government level and religious bodies how to help these children in their studies and sensitize the single parents.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF/MOTIVATION FOR/PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH
Having worked for twenty five years in primary schools, the researcher has come across many pupils coming from different socio-economic background, pupils with different cognitive abilities and also children coming from single parent families and dual families. The researcher has observed that a considerable percentage of pupils coming from some families tend to achieve poorly compared to others coming from families who provide their support and attention to their children.
Often the researcher came across pupils who did not have the required learning materials, did not complete their homework or projects, turned to be late at school; did not bring proper food at school or could always hear other educators complaining that some pupils are unbearable and affecting the pass rate or percentage of the class. Direct critics or eye contact given by the educators to some pupils in the class tend these pupils to remain quiet or unresponsive in class which also resulted in absenteeism of those targeted pupils.
However some educators were dedicated towards the welfare of all the children and shared a good and healthy relation with the pupils and their parents. A good school climate attracts a child to school. When children feel loved and cared for they enjoy their school life and perform well. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs if the basic needs of the child is catered for which is food, affection and care will he/she be able to ladder up and get self-actualization.
According to the US Department of Education Family Involvement Partnership for Learning “Many educators are of the opinion that a lack of involvement from parents negatively impacts a child’s grades and behavior at school.” Parents who are involved in their child’s education, whether by helping them with their homework and play an active role in their lives have children who are well-behaved and get good grades. However it has also been found that the absence of one parent impacts the academic performance of the children adversely.
The main purpose of the study was to investigate the impact of single parenting on children’s education in primary schools, more specifically where the researcher is actually posted. A drastic difference was found compared to the former school ( Shri Rajiv Gandhi Govt.) where the researcher was posted previously: a five star school in the district of Flacq. Parents in this school are keen with the success of their wards and work in cooperation with the whole school as a family.
It was shocking to find many single parents and broken families in the new school(Poste de Flacq Govt.) and also their ‘uncaring’ attitudes towards the educational achievement of their wards. The way the children behaved and their poor level of academic performance in class pushed the researcher to find out if their poor academic performance in class was only due to single parenting or any other reasons.
It is hoped that findings from this study will enrich programmes of teaching studies about the roles of families. The researcher is interested in the study of the impact of single parenting on the children’s education in schools because whatever happens in the home has a bearing in the academic performance of children
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
A research design is a logical and systematic search for new and useful information on a particular topic. It involves how data are collected, from where it will be obtained, who are concerned in this research and how the researcher is going to obtain the information needed to carry out the research. According to Cohen,Manion& Morrisson (2013)” the aim of the research methodology is to help the reader to understand, not the products of scientific enquiry but the process itself, in its broadest possible terms. Hence this part explains the approaches and methodology that have been used to address the research questions that are stated for this study.”
1.61 LITERATURE REVIEW
A literature review is a summary of previous research on a topic. According to Bell (2004:87) it is stated that ” any investigation, whatever the scale, will involve reading what other researchers have written about the area of interest. It will also involve reading to gather information to support or refute one’s arguments and writings about empirical findings.”
A literature review for this study consists of study of the impact that single parenting has on the education of their children compared to those who get the full support of both parents.
1.62 EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION
Mouton (2001:53) states that” through an empirical investigation, information in whatever form is gathered, analysed and finally interpreted in order to address the problem being investigated.”
184.108.40.206 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Frankel, Devers and Kelly (2000:5) state that” the most useful guideline for selecting a research method is based on the type of research questions one is asking and the extent to which the method will inform the research questions.” Since this research seeks to collect data examining the quantity and quality using statistical numerical data, the approach is therefore going to be both quantitative and qualitative. The first method is going to give an insight of indiviual perception on the matter and secondly the quantitative research method is going to give an estimate or exact figure how children are influenced in their academic performance at school and the reasons behind their failure.
220.127.116.11 RESEARCH METHODS
In this study the main objective of the researcher is to investigate the impact of single parenting in their children’s education. Semi-structured focus groups interview and questionnaires were utlilised for the purpose of data collection. According to Denscombe(2000:114)” interviewing allowed the researcher to collect data on emotions, experiences and feelings based on sensitive issues and privileged information. On the other hand data can be collected relatively quickly through questionnaires because the researcher would not need to be present when the questionnaires were completed. This is useful for large populations when interviews would be impractical. However, a problem with questionnaire is that respondents may lie due to social desirability. However questionnaires have the advantage to keep the anonymity of participants.’
For the purpose of this study the researcher chose mainly Poste de Flacq Government School where the rate of single parenting and poor pupils’ academic performance is at a rise. 21 teachers and 84 pupils were selected to carry out the research. Questionnaires were sent to both single parents and dual parents for this study to have an idea if single parenting was the main negative factor affecting the pupils’ performance at school. There was a total of 3 focus groups and each group consisted of 7 teachers: 4 primary school educators, 2 Asian language teachers and 1 pre-primary teacher. Each focus group was interviewed separately to have variety in opinions. The three focus groups were interviewed during lunch time.
18.104.22.168 DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
“The purpose of using a focus group is to gain perspectives about the research topic to allow a socially-oriented interaction. Focus groups allow space for people to get together and create meaning among themselves and has the effect of shaping and reshaping opinions to develop a completely new set of data” as stated by Babbie & Mouton (2001). Focus groups interview was used for teachers and questionnaires were sent to parents to collect data. One focus group was interviewed at a time during recess which allowed the participants to give more insight about the problem. The focus group interview proved to be fruitful in the sense that the children spend most of the time with their teachers and they ‘know’ their pupils quite well. Parents were explicitly explained about the questionnaire and where need to fill them was felt the respective teachers helped them during their free time.
Once all the data were collected they were grouped according to their commonalities and differences. Data from the questionnaires were also analysed and were presented in tables frequencies, percentages and charts.
22.214.171.124 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Belle (2004:41)states that” the conditions for ethical research in practice are that all participants are offered the opportunity to remain anonymous, all information is treated with strict condidentiality, interviewees have the opportunity to verify statements when the research is in draft form and participants receive a copy of the final report.”
For this study the researcher sought prior permission from the Headmaster to carry out the research for this specific study and gave clear details about how it was going to be carried. All the respondents were requested not to write their names in the questionnaires as a measure of ensuring confidentiality. Also all the participants were reassured that all findings of the study would be under no circumstances be divulged and would be solely used for academic purposes.
1.7 CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
The most important concepts related to this research and which need to be defined and explained are as follows:
The single parent
A single parent, sometimes called a solo-parent is a parent that is not living with a spouse or partner, who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children. A single parent is usually considered the primary caregiver. It is with the primary caregiver that the child or children live majority of the time. It can also be referred to an uncoupled individual who shoulders most or all of the day to day responsibilities for raising a child or children. A parent can be single due to these reasons:
Death of one parent
Economic reasons( one of the parents has gone abroad to work)
The dual parent
A two-parent family refers to parents who are married to each other and living in the same household. They may be biological, adoptive, or stepparents
Education in the context
According to Collins dictionary “Education is the process of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind, character especially by formally schooling; teaching and training.” However for this specific study education is mainly considered as the academic performance of the child as education itself is broad sense
School under the Headship of the Ministry of Education, where children as from 5 years of age up to 11 years acquire basic skills in reading, writing and are awarded a Primary School Award Certicate after completing successfully at school
Distict of Flacq:
The largest district of Mauritius among the 9 districts of Mauritius found in the East of Mauritius
According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 “A child is any human being below the age of eighteen years”. For this study children from 5 to 11years will be considered.
1.8 CHAPTER DIVISION
The study is divided into five chapters and are organized as follows:
Chapter one deals with the introduction, the statement of the problems, and significance of the study, objectives, and organization of the study.
Chapter two presents an overview of existing literature. This chapter provides a review of already existing literature on single parenting and its impact on children’s education.
Chapter three contains the research methodology. It describes the research design and tools that will be used in data collection and analysis for the study.
Data analysis and presentation of findings are in chapter four. It also includes a discussion of the data collected from the field.
The summary of the research findings, recommendations and conclusion are placed in chapter five of the study.
This chapter has been presented to highlight the problem that relate to single parenting and how it impacts the education of their children in primary school. The background to the problem of how single parenting impacts the education of their children in primary school is briefly described.
The next chapter presents the findings of a literature study of the concept single parenting and its impact on children’s education.
A review of literature has been presented in this chapter on the impact of single parenting in children’s education in primary schools, more precisely at Poste de Flacq Government School in Flacq district. In this chapter literature on single family, family size, single parents educational level, types of occupation and the assistance provided by them to their wards are reviewed so as to find out how single parenting impacts the academic performance of their children at school. The theory of cognitive development has also been presented in this chapter to guide the study.
2.2 Single Parenting
According to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health” single parent families are families with children under the age of 18 headed by a parent who is widowed, divorced, not remarried or by a parent who has never married.” Single parents are mostly known to encounter many challenges as they have to shoulder all the responsibilities meaning lack of financial support, lack of time for assistance or support to be provided to the children. Moreover if the single parent does not have a good educational level it becomes more than a burden. On the top it becomes a difficult situation for the single parent as decision making,discipline and financial responsibilities become barriers in the way of this type of family.
Social scientists have found that children in single parent families are at a disadvantage compared to children coming from dual parent families. Children in such families are at risk to low level of educational achievement owing to lack of fund, support from their parents and thus suffer not only in their academic performance but also from emotional and behavioural problem. Keller (1997) refers to single parents” where mother or fathers raise their children without the presence of a spouse. ” Two major reasons which could be the cause in the rise of single parenting in our society is due to giving birth to children out of wedlock and the other reason could be the new trend of cohabiting and changing new partners. According to the figures given by Mauritius Population Census in 2011 there were more widowed in female between the age group of 35 -39 than male.
Figure 1 shows a Table about the Marital Status of people in Mauritius between 1993-2016
Fig. 1 – Marriage and Divorce Rate, Republic of Mauritius, 1993 – 2016
(Source: Mauritiius Population Census )The graph gives a clear indication of how divorce is rising through the years and how the decline in marriage is causing more and mrore single parent families in our society. According to Wallerstein & Blakeslee (1989)” single parenting caused by divorce usually have these effects on children:
• Loss of concentration and attention
• Declining grades and behavior problems at school
• Withdrawal from friends
• Emotional outbursts and health problems
• Serious anger with one or both parents
• Delinquency and substance use (samhsa.gov, 2011)
New types of families which have emerged nowadays and that may be categorised in four family types:
The intact family
The blended family
Never married couples
And lastly the single parent family which is the main area of study
2.3 Causes of Single Parenting and its impact
Some common causes of single parent families are due to divorce, death of one of the spouse, never married parents, not remarried parents, separation, incarceration of a parent or a parent who is absent from the country for a long while and the other spouse has to provide support to children. Parents play a key role in the upbringing of their children. They are the main role models, initiators of good guidance, provide motivation and protection to do better in their life, be it in the society or at school.
According to Fantuzzo (2000) “the academic performance of any child cannot be separated from the home environment in which the child grows up and which has a powerful influence on the child.” Moore (2006) supports that ” children living in a single-parent and or low-income households are more likely to exhibit problem behaviors, depressive symptoms and are less likely to display social competence than are children who grow up in more fortunate circumstances.” Based on Bandura’s Bandura’s social cognitive theory (2002) it is claimed that human development is influenced, in part by environmental agents. Family structure is an environmental agent that impacts human development and therefore also impacts student achievement.
Family can boost a child self-confidence by giving emotional support to a child. This helps the child to work better although some essential tools or necessities may be lacking. According to Maslow’s theory hiearchy of needs, emotion which is one of the basic needs of the child may leave a profound impact on the student’s academic performance when his/her emotional needs are not catered for. The crave for emotion for the missing parent may hinder the performance of the child at school. The role of parents is of paramount importance in the upbringing of the child.
2.4 Single Parent educational level and children academic performance
According to Davis-Kean (2005) ” Parents’ educational level is an important indicator of a child’s education and behaviour outcomes further supports that there is a positive relation between parents’ educational attainment and parents’ expectation for their children’s success.” Parents who are highly qualified want to children to perform better in their studies at school. On the contrary parents who have low educational level are at a disadvantage as they are unable to provide support to their children to carry their homework or assignments.
Stipek (1998) claims ” If a parent’s educational level is low, it could affect family interaction patterns and child behaviour that might contribute to low academic achievement over time.” Parents with poor educational level feel at a loss to talk to the teachers of their wards perhaps owing to poor self-esteem or shame.
Mc Lanahan (1994) a researcher who carried a study on single parenting found that children who are reared in single parent families do not perform well compared to children reared in dual families. It is believed that children coming from single family structure are more likely to face increased academic difficulties.
2.5 Single Parents occupation and pupils academic performance
Rosen (2004) claims that “Global studies on family structure have revealed that children from single parents homes may be losing in the battle for academic success in a variety of ways.” Very often single parents are the main and only source of financial support for the family. This means that owing to the nature of their jobs they have limited time to provide help to their child or support them to do their homework or have a track on consistent discipline and also have limited parental control. All these conditions may lead to lower the achievement of the child.
When single parents have to work multiple jobs or work different shifts it becomes inconvenient to have a good follow up of their ward’s performance. The parents are unable to share good quality time together, sometimes they are absent at home once more owing to occupation obligations and are absent to share the table for common meals or do not have enough financial support to provide their kids with an extracurricular activity like music or sports. Thus family circumstances widen the gap between an advantaged child to that of a disadvantaged child in the sense that those who are well off financially have more access to various activities and experiences. According to Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligence theory ” when a child is exposed to various activities they help to promote brain development and bring around fruitful development in different aspects in a child.”
Life for single working mothers are more stressful as they have to take care of the house chores, take care of the children and to reach to here workplace on time. If the children live under the same roof of their grandparents they still have the advantage that someone can take care of them however grandparents cannot help the children cope with their homework. Sometimes they find themselves having a bad time when their ward is sick and a leave is not granted or allowed. Frazer, Brockert & Ward (2004) state that ” Children of young mothers seem to be at risk due to the fact that their state may warrant them to leave their children to their grandparents who may not understand much about education.” Moreover grandparents are known to pamper their grandchildren which sometimes lead to cases of misbehavior. In such instances a lack of father figure is often felt and who presumably has the capacity to curb misbehavior issues. However grandparents are often of great help to single parents in the sense that when the concerned parent cannot school functions they make themselves available to do so. They even help to drop the children at school and pick them back.
2.6 Parental Involvement and academic performance
Graves and Wright (2011) claims that positive impacts of parental involvement on student academic outcomes have not only been recognized by school administrators and teachers, but also by policy-makers who have interwoven different aspects of parental involvement in new educational initiatives and reforms. Through a tested evidence Kim (2008) supports the idea that “Parental involvement is key in the success of every student regardless of households.” When she compared and analysed the surveys concerning parental involvements as concerns their homework and quality time for school functions and participation she came to the conclusion there is a positive relationship between parents involvement and students achievement. However she noted that the students’ achieved better in their academic performance where there were two biological parents
According to Joyce Epstein (2002) when parents involve themselves by providing the basic needs to their children, have good interaction between school and home and encourage learning activities of school by providing assistance to their children to do their homework they have a positive impact on the academic performance of their wards. However single parents are at a disadvantage owing to their occupation, financial situation and time availability due to the nature of their jobs.
2.7 Family size and academic performance
More children means more mouth to feed and more of everything must be shared in a family where there is a solo parent. However it has been observed that in families where there are more than two children and a single parent earner life is not that easy. Moreover if the single parent is living with grandparents means division of resources though the elders may be having pension income which is not sufficient enough for themselves. Lack of resources due to family size and on the top an insufficient income ask for sacrifices. Often the older child is given priority for tuition if possible as the parents think the older children would be able to younger ones to cope with their studies.
Having more children means dividing time for each one to cope with their work. This impacts the children in their academic performance as the single parent tend to give more time to the first offspring if it happens he/she is in the upper primary. Grandparents also cannot provide much help owing to their level of education and new methods and techniques used at school level nowadays is out of their reach. Having grand parents under the same can be an advantage in numerous ways in providing help to the single parent to look after the kids in his/her absence. However owing to their old age they often suffer from old age sickness and again sharing of time and assuming more responsibilities burdens the parents to have quality time with the children and provide them the necessary assistance to complete their work and assignment.
2.8 Theory of Cognitive Development
According to the theory of Cognitive Development developed by Lev Vygotsky in 1978 it was found that Parents play a pivotal role during the life cycle of their wards. It also highlights on the influence parents and teachers have on children academic performance. In his theory Lev Vygostky has also commented on the concept of single-parent families. According to him children from single parent families are more at risk than those coming from two-parent families though they may have similar academic abilities. According to Rothstein (2004), the absence of the missing parent to guide, discipline, model and teach may constitute one of the major causes that a child from a single parent family may not perform well at their full potential.
Such situations arise because single parents represent the primary and only source of financial support available for the family as a result of which they do not have sufficient time to help children with homework or attend any school functions or activities. According to Mc Lanahan (1991) “Single parents are less likely to exercise parental control and consistent discipline among their wards, thus all these conditions may contribute to lower their academic achievement.” On the other hand, there is a common belief that children tend to learn more if they are continously supported at appropriate times by the caregiver who help them in exploring new learning tasks. According to Brooks (2011) an instant rise in the cognitive skills can be registered if kids are provided with proper assistance. This could be on parents’ part or teachers’ side as well.
The aim behind this theory was to show that a child needs both parents to achieve well in education if proper assistance in given in terms of bodily presence, time, care and providing the basic necessities to the children. Bringing up a child alone means not having only financial support but quality time as well.
The main focus in this literature review was on the impact of single parenting on their children’s education and how the educational level, occupation, family socio-background and involvement has a direct impact on the academic performance of their wards. Research methodology will be dealt in chapter 3.
Details about the procedure that was used to collect data in carrying this study will be discussed in this chapter. It will mainly deal with the research design, the data collection tools, the target population, the sampling techniques and lastly the data analysis of the study.
3.2 Research Design
“The function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables you to effectively address the research problem logically and as unambiguously as possible.” Kerlinger (2010) defines a research design as” a research in the plan, structure and strategy of investigation conceived so at to obtain answers to research questions and to control variance.’ According to Kothari (2008) a research design can be defined as” the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data in a manner that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure.”
This study focuses on the impact of single parenting on pupils academic performance. A descriptive survey design was used to investigate the study variables. According to Orodo (2004)” descriptive studies allow the researcher to gather information, summarize, present and interpret for the purpose of clarification.” The research approach is both qualitative and quantitative..3.3 Location of the study
The researcher chose Poste de Flacq, a coastal village, as location to carry out the study. It is a small village found at approximately a kilometre away from Central Flacq region. It consists of a mixed community of people with a majority of Hindu population followed by Christian community. Mixed marriage exists between different communities. The people there mostly work in hotels or earn their living by carrying small scale business of their own. The researcher is posted at Poste de Flacq Primary Government School and the poor performance of the pupils in this school in nearly all classes pushed the researcher to find the reason behind their poor academic performance. The researcher found that many children at school come from broken homes or lived with single parents. Therefore the researcher wanted to investigate if the poor academic performance was mainly due to family marital status, family background or was there any other reason responsible for this.
3.4 Target Population
According to Parahoo (2006) population is defined as “the total number of units from which data is collected”, such as individuals, artefacts, events or organizations. Likewise population is described” as all the elements that meet the criteria for inclusion in a study” according to Burns and Grove (2003). Both of them are of the opinion that a researcher know exactly which details and information are required to form part of the target population. The target population for this study are the parents and the pupils of Poste de Flacq Primary Government School.
3.5 Sample Size
“Sample size is a direct count of the number of samples measured or observations being made.” According to Zamboni (2018) sample size ” is a count the of individual samples or observations in any statistical setting, such as a scientific experiment or a public opinion survey. Though a relatively straightforward concept, choice of sample size is a critical determination for a project.” According to him if the sample is too small then it will not give a reliable result whereas a large sample on the other hand may give a consistent result but much time and resources are needed to carry it.
As sample study Poste de Flacq Primary Government School was considered: 21 teachers and 84 pupils were selected to carry out the research. There were three focus groups. Each focus group consisted of 7 teachers: 4 primary school educators, 2 Asian language teachers and 1 pre-primary teacher. Each focus group was interviewed separately and the pre-primary teacher was able to provide more information on specific children’s family history if ever the pupils in primary classes had attended the pre-primary school at Poste de Flacq Government School. A Deputy Headmaster assisted the researcher to take notes of the different views of teachers respondents.
3.5.1 Sampling ProcessAccording to Burns and Grove (2003:31) sampling is referred as ” a process of selecting a group of people, events or behaviours with which to conduct a study.”Likewise Patton (2002) states that purposeful sampling is a technique widely used in qualitative research for the identification and selection of information-rich cases for the most effective use of limited resources. According to Cresswell & Plano Clark (2011)” sampling involves identifying and selecting individuals or groups that are especially knowledgeable about or experienced with a phenomenon of interest. Whether the methodology employed is quantitative or qualitative, sampling methods are intented to maximise efficiency and validity” states Morse and Niehaus (2009) . In this study 84 pupils of Poste de Flacq Primary Government School were involved. They were chosen randomly. Information of the pupils were collected through questionnaires, school admission register book and their health cards. Microsoft Office Tools were used to analyze the data which were collected.
3.5.2 Sampling ProcedureA simple random sampling was used in sampling 21 teachers for this study from Poste de Flacq Primary Government School. A total of 84 pupils: 7 pupils from each grades were selected to carry out the study which formed 32% of 378 pupils of the school. Questionnaires were sent to 84 parents through pupils, who were selected randomly. As mentionned in 3.5, Focus groups each consisting of 7 teachers were going to be interviewed during lunch time or free periods, depending on the availabitity and choice of the teachers. Pupils from all grades were chosen to see if ever there were any similarities associated with the academic performance of pupils.
3.6 Data Collection
“Data collection is the systematic approach to gathering and measuring information from a variety of sources to get a complete and accurate picture of an area of interest. Data collection enables a person or organization to answer relevant questions, evaluate outcomes and make predictions about future probabilities and trends.” A research instrument is considered as ” a tool used to collect data. An instrument is a tool designed to measure knowledge, attitude and skills” states Parahoo (2006). Data were collected from different sources: questionnaires, focus groups, school admission register book and pupils Health cards.
3.6.1 Data Collection Techniques
In this research the main research instrument was the researcher. The role of the researcher was to bring forward information during the focus group discussion. Permission to carry the research was sought from the Headmaster of the named school. The researcher explained the purpose of the study to the Headmaster and requested to have an official letter duly signed by the school Head to continue with the research.
In this letter it was clearly mentionned why this specific school was chosen, who were chosen to carry out the study and what was its purpose and also how the findings from this study would help to improve the lives of the children living in this area. The researcher also included a covering letter to keep the confidentiality of all respondents and then deliver the study tools. A copy of the questionnaire was vetted previously by the supervisor and later by the Headmaster and one of his assisstants to see that it will not create any type of ambiguity.. 3.7 Research Instruments
Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data in this study. Semi-structured interviews give the freedom to interviewees to express their views freely and can provide reliable and qualitative data. Other information were collected from pupils’ Health Cards which provided some personal information regarding the family background and their financial status. Other information were also available from school register admission book which keeps all the records about the pupils admission and their family occupation and other details.
The data collected through these documents were going to put light on the children performance in relation to the difference among children coming from different family status and background. Most of the questions were close-ended as the documents at school showed that there is a minority of people who have a tertiary level education and very little who have completed their higher school certificate. From the questionnaires, information concerning parent’s education and their financial status also were going to be collected. Parents having problems to fill in the questionnaires were going to be supported by researcher’s help if ever needs arose.
3.7.1 Research Instruments
One of the research instruments that was used was the questionnaire sent to parents. It contained 25 items. The parents had to give their personal details such as age, sex, their family social status and also about their attitudes and expectations. Some of the questions were graded using the Likert 5-scale. Questionnaires were used as they require little time to be completed. The person can fill it at his/her convenience. Further confidentiality is guaranteed as respondents are not required to write their names. This is the way their scoring method of their responses were addressed:
1 for strongly agree,
2 for agree,
3 for no idea,
4 for disagree and
5 for strongly disagree.
Parahoo (2006) states that ” a focus group discussion is an interaction between one or more researchers and more than one participant for the purpose of collecting data.” The researcher interviewed educators of different grades to give their opinions about the impact of single parenting on the academic performance of pupils in this study. and a Deputy Headmaster assisted to transcribe the findings. Focus group allows data to be retrieved quickly and in a cheaper way. People working in the same organisation or place of work feel at ease and are more comfortable to share their ideas with each other. Different participants are able to voice and share their opinions without any ‘animosity’. According to Holloway and Wheeler (2002) ” a focus group allows dynamic interaction among participants and stimulates their thoughts and reminds them of their own feelings about the research topic and also allowing the researcher to clarify conflicts between participants and ask about their different views.”
3.7.2 Validity of Research Instruments
.According to Mugenda and Mugenda (2003) ” validity is the accuracy and meaningfulness of inferences, which are based on the research results. Validity is the degree to which the result obtained from the analysis os the data actually represents the phenomenon under study.” The researcher sought the help of supervisors in the department to find out if the research instruments to be used were suitable and eligible to carry out the study for data collection. According to Yuko and Onen (2011) it is important to consider validity of research instruments in order to ensure that the instruments genuinely measure what they purport to measure.
3.8 Data Analysis
“Data Analysis is a method in which data is collected and organised so that one can derive helpful information from it.” According to Burns ; Grove (2003:479) ” data analysis is a mechanism for reducing and organising data to produce findings that require interpretation by the researcher.” Firstly the researcher went through all the questionnaires that were obtained and been duly filled by the respondents. Next the data obtained from the questionnaires was organized for editing and analysis purpose.
All the data retrieved from questionnaires were classified according to the objectives and responses and were grouped by the researcher so as to find out their means and percentages. Percentages and frequencies were used to analyse all the data. The researcher used percentage and frequencies to compare the relationship between the two variables: the family marital status of the pupils’ parents and their academic performance. The researcher used both quantitative and qualitative method to carry out the research study. The focus groups gave a deeper insight of the problem statement and helped the researcher to see the research study from various angles. Finally the data collected was compiled and computed by using Microsoft Office Tools.
Research methodology was described in this chapter. A research design is done to find maximum plausible answers to the research questions.. In this study the researcher was the main data collection instrument. By the use of interview, questionnaires, documents and information from school register admission book and pupils health cards data were collected. While carrying the research the particiapants were ensured that all information will be confidential and that all respondents will be morally and ethically protected. In this chapter data were analysed to find out the impact of single parenting on pupils’ academic performance. Data analysis and the findings will be discussed in chapter 4
Analysis ; Findings
A. Tables 1 to 12; 15 ; 18
From the above-mentioned tables, the following can be deduced:
Gender of respondents: 50% each (Male ; Female), it means that the sample is representative in nature and is in line with the Gender Equality Concept as a result of which it gives credibility, reliability and authenticity to the analysis.
(ii)Age Distribution: Gives an indication of a relatively young sample. It shows the stability of the household and strong relationship shared between couples. It seems that the concept of marriage and its importance are deeply rooted and well understood in the village of Poste de Flacq for two parent family. Evidence –Refer to percentages of over 45 years (dual). As far as the single parent is concerned, the age bracket 24 to 35 years is eye catching (reasons that can be attributed: adventurous nature of youngsters; lack of knowledge about the concept of family ; marriage; immaturity, inability to shoulder parental responsibilities etc.
(iii)Occupation of respondents: Well diversed sample as it represents respondents from all the social strata of society (Top Management, Managerial, Middle Management, Administrative Cadre, Manual Grades and self-employed, unemployed). The analysis caters for the realities of the village.
(iv)Educational Level of Respondents: Group the levels as follows: Dual- Father ; Mother as one unit + Single (Either Mother ; Father depending the gender). This will definitely show the diversity of the sample under study.
(v)Monthly and Source of Income to be discussed under one cover- Tables 5 and 18. Majority earn a decent salary so as to lead a peaceful life and cater for their basic needs (Dual + Single) ; Above poverty line; 6 out of 24 single respondents earning less than 10,000, can be living in poverty ridden region.
(vi)Main Cause of being single parent (Table 6): Divorce corroborates with the statistics provided in Literature Review. Other causes may be due to Inter marriages, Unmarried couples; increase in the number of domestic violence cases, incompatibility of couples, child abuse, and wedlock. These are gradually taking alarming dimension in Poste de Flacq.
(vii) Length of years as Single Parent: 3-4 years corroborates with the age band of 24 to 45 years to a very large extent. 5-6 years mainly refers to divorced cases as the percentages tally (Table 6 v/s Table 7)
(viii)No. of Children of Respondents: High % among single and Two parent families (1-2) indicate that householders are well versed about the concept of Family Planning, the continuous rising cost of living in the country, the importance to provide quality time to family members.
(ix)Time spent with kids per day ; Average Grade of wards: According to literature, parents having good educational levels normally spent more time with their children, thus, implying better educational achievement. Two parent families, presence of both father and mother, hence, can look after kids alternatively. This is evidenced by high % (3 hours or more) compared to low % in single parent, who has very limited time. However, this does not reflect in the average grade of wards whereby the number of children from single parent family overshadows those from dual 23 (9+6+8) compared to 16(4+5+7). The findings is in line with the no. of hours the single parent assists his kids (Table 9; 1-2 hours; 62.5%). It further confirms that it is not the number of hours that counts but the dedication, commitment with which it is provided. Dual members may be providing greater no. of hours but they could be in a distracted manner, that is, they may be doing so while at the same time be on their laptop or mobile phone, hence, depriving the children from the duty of care, attention and quality time.
(x)On the other hand, opinions diverge as far as importance of parents. According to literature, parenting is not an easy task as it requires a lot patience, skill etc. It is a shared responsibility whereby the presence of both partners is of prime importance as each one a very distinct role. Two parent family share this view given the high % allocated (94.44%). Single parent family is divided on this issue. Perhaps due to the ego centric nature of male and female or the chauvinism syndrome (Table 11).
(xi)Table 12 further confirms the findings of Table 11. Parenting is a shared responsibility process and ego state of male and female.
Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations
The findings of the study have been summarised in this chapter in relation to their objectives. Accordingly conclusions and recommendations were based on the results of the study as well as areas of further research.
5.2 Brief view of the findings
Through this study the researcher sought to find out the impact of single parenting on children’s education, more specifically in Poste de Flacq Primary Government School. Different factors such as family structure, family size, parental educational level, parental occupation in single parents as well as in intact families were taken into consideration to see how much these factors impact the education of children. The reviewed literature was in line with the objectives which were mentioned in Chapter 1 of the research study and were used to find out how single parenting impacts children’s education. For this study the researcher used focus group interviews for the teachers and questionnaires were given to parents to carry both a quantitative and qualitative research. There were 84 parents among the parents’ respondents 21 teachers for focus group interview and lastly a Deputy Headmaster who helped to jot down notes during the interview.
The research findings on the first objective(1) to investigate to which extent single parenting educational level impacts children’s education in the primary compared to those having both parents From Table 9 the findings showed that children coming from dual families who were highly educated gained more in terms of time, involvement and their support. Parents who are highly qualified meant more income and more resources available to the children compared to single parents who have not achieved a high level of education. It was found from Table 19 that single parents families did their best to provide all the basic necessities and learning materials to their children. According to focus group respondents highly qualified dual parents could afford to pay for extra tuitions and provide more resources to their children as higher educational level means better jobs and higher pay.
Single parents with a moderate educational level tend to have difficulties to help their kids if they dropped out earlier from schools stated a respondent from a focus group in comparison to a highly qualified parent. However though having a quite good qualification the single parents are most of the time not available as they are taken up with their jobs . Further teacher respondents from focus groups also confirmed that lack of parental assistance in single familty stucture not only impacted children’s education but discipline as well.
Results from the second objective (2) tried to assess how far single parents occupations influenced children’s performance at school. Firstly the type of job a single parent has a direct impact on the children’s studies. It can be in terms of availability and income. Information obtained from focus group interview showed that dual parents are at an advantage as there are two people to shoulder the responsibility to help the children in their studies. Secondly if they were unavailable due to the nature of their jobs they could easily pay for extra tuition compared to single parents who could not afford all these facilities due to their petty jobs and income they brought. In their families to bear all the expenses compared dual families who bring double income.
From Table 9 it was seen that 24% of dual parents spent more than 3 hours with their children compared to single parents. This means children from single parents were at a disadvantage owing to their parents occupations in terms of support, assistance, do their homework and to socialize better. According to Park and Kim (2011) “Parental involvement is supposed to positively affect children’s educational outcomes” but lack of quality time often impacts their children’s success at school as the parents are often absent when they need them
Findings on research objective (3) sought to look for means and ways at school level, government level and religious bodies how to help children in their studies and sensitize the single parents. According to Rimm (2008) “Schools must be encouraged to adopt curricula that educates and instils in the children the importance of family without seeking to find out how their families are.” Further according to respondents from focus group interview mentioned if children and cared and loved by their teachers it makes a difference in their performance. Also the problem of overloaded syllabus was a problem to these children and still if teachers adopted different learning styles to suit the needs of the children they could perform better at school. Bullying and peer pressure must be under supervision according to a focus group interview. Children must be taught about values and tolerance at school.
As concerned religious bodies the priests must lay emphasis on family cohesion when there are religious gatherings and talk about the bad impact that broken families have on children’s education, adulthood and society. Government and NGO’s may provide the help of resource persons to talk about sex and family education in schools to sensitize the children since their childhood about the problems and difficulties that single parents encounter.
The research objectives was mostly dealt in the conclusion with main focus on the impact of single parenting on children’s education. From the findings in the study it was found that dual parents are far better for children to succeed in life as their responsibilities and shouldered and shared by two people. More support and assistance from intact families bring more confidence in children and they perform better at school. Single parents education level was also found to impact children’s education. In some cases lack of father figure caused to children not only to lower their achievement at school but also misbehave. Family size was also seen as one of the negative factor that impact children’s education as sharing of resources diminishes the chances of the children. However it must not be overlooked that if a child is given proper attention and cared at school he/she will try to his/her best. Schools can look for financial support from different organisations like hotels in the area of Poste de Flacq to help the needy children as concerns basic materials. Parents who are well off can be asked to give a helping hand to those children who are unable to succeed owing to lack of basic necessities. Still religious bodies must do their share of work and bring people to believe in the institution of marriage and be good role models in the society to provide a good ‘education’ in turn to take the lead.
The following recommendations have been made based on the results of the study:
At school level the management, PTA and other stakeholders could see how to involve parents more in school activities to show their importance in the success at school. Schools with the help of the concerned Ministry can ask help from the Family Planning to learn more about sex and education at schools.
Teachers are good role models and they must show care, praise their pupils, develop strategies to suit the learning styles of different children and talk more about values in class; This will help other children to have empathy for children who comes from unfavourable family backgrounds.
Religious bodies must preach about good values and the importance of dual families for the children.
The area under study has been carried in only one primary school in Flacq. The researcher cannot confirm how far the findings about the impact of single parent in children’s education is to the point. Further only 50% of the questionnaires were available to carry out the study which does not represent the exact figures and also questionnaires does not necessarily provide exact information. If interviews could have been possible to carry out this research for the whole school but time factor is a problem both both parties.