1. BACKGROUNDTO THE STUDY1.
1 The Statement of the Research ProblemBothprimary and secondary legislation which deals with school attendance in SouthAfrica is very clear on the role of parents and guardians in ensuring thatlearners attend school without fail. In terms of South African law, asenshrined 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 thatevery child from the age of seven to fifteen years attend school. Parents andlegal guardians of these children are compelled to make sure that they attendschool. On thecontrary, while school attendance is mandatory for every child within theschool going age group, Jacobs, Vakalisa and Gawe (2016) lament that truancy isone of the most serious and prevalent problem areas in South African Schoolsand call for parents to be actively involved in addressing this problem. Itaffects learners negatively in several ways. Among others, truancy causes somegaps in the learners’ knowledge of basic concepts and content done in theirabsence (Sheldon and Epstein, 2005).
Such a gap can ultimately demoralise themand prevent them from realising their full potential in life. Learners who donot attend school are more vulnerable than other learners who always attend.Their health and safety are always exposed to high levels of risk because theyget involved in activities that are socially unacceptable. McNeal further warnsthat truancy makes learners to graduate from the school system withoutmastering basic skills.Manamela(2015) and Jacobs et al (2016) warnthat learners’ intentional and wilful neglect of their school responsibilitiesusually start as a type of protest action but if not controlled and properlydealt with, it leads to delinquent lives, drug addiction and other forms ofsocial alienation (Maddock, 2014 and Sheldon and Epstein, 2005).
It istherefore imperative that parents are actively involved and collaborate withschools in all efforts to deal with truancy, also noting that truancy has anegative effect on the teaching and learning and learning process. 1.2 Research QuestionsTheproposed study seeks to answer the following research questions,v What isthe role of parental involvement in dealing with truancy at Clocolan HighSchool?v Howcan parents be involved in dealing with truancy at Clocolan High School?v Howdoes parental involvement affect truancy at Clocolan High School? 1.
3 The Purpose of the study.Dictatedby the research questions raised above, the purpose of this study is to explorethe role of parental involvement in the education of their children on truancy.The study seeks to investigate and explain how parental involvement can be usedto curb truancy.1.4 The Significance of the StudyThesignificance of this study is manifested in the fact that it will illuminate onthe role of parents in dealing with truancy. It is anticipated that the studywill emphasise and increase public awareness on the importance of parentalinvolvement in the education of their children in addressing the problem oftruancy. Consequently, the beneficiaries of this study are going to be thelearners, educators and parents.Learnerswill benefit academically from improved school attendance as a result ofimproved and more efficient parental involvement.
Educators will no longer haveto go through the frustration of covering the syllabus in half filledclassrooms, knowing that those who are absent will bring down their pass rates,thereby weakening the educators’ efforts in teaching and learning. Parents willbenefit from a crop of learners who are always at school and therefore likelyto pass, thereby ensuring their academic progression at school. Learners willnot drop out of school or fail their grades as a result of truancy.
1.5 Definition of Key Terms1.5.1 ParentalinvolvementAccordingto Manamela (2015) and McNeal (2014), parental involvement is the participationof parents in various school-based and home-based activities to enhance and improvethe education of their children. On the other hand, Kruger (2006) views it assupport which parents give to schools, usually in the form of cooperation andparticipation, thereby creating a strong partnership.A morecompelling and comprehensive definition is offered by Lemmer, Meier and van Wyk(2009) who define parental involvement as a complex and dynamic process inwhich parents and educators work together for the learners’ ultimate benefits.This process includes cooperating and collaborating on educational issues, goalsetting, finding solutions, implementing, monitoring and evaluating shared andcollective educational goals as well as promoting and maintaining trust betweenthe school and the home.Allthe above versions of parental involvement will be applicable in this study.
1.5.2 TruancyChangand Romero (2008), Seeley, (2006) and the National Center for Mental HealthPromotion and Youth Violence Prevention are in agreement that truancy is when alearner is absent from school without any excuse from the parent or guardian ofif the learner leaves the school or class without any permission from the educatoror any person in the school who is duly authorised to grant such permission tothe learner. 1.
6 Delimitation of the StudyDealingwith truancy is regarded as a management function of the school which is a soleresponsibility of educators, parents, the School Governing Body and SchoolManagement Team. As such, the envisaged study will be classified under thebranch of Educational Management. 2. REVIEWOF RELATED LITERATURE2.
1 IntroductionThepurpose of this chapter is to present a synthesis of literature which isrelated to truancy and parental involvement. The discussion has been structuredaccording to the research questions raised earlier in the Background of thisstudy. Literature review serves as a signpost which guides the researcher inidentifying relevant study findings from previous investigations which canassist in answering the research questions.
2.2 The role of parental involvement indealing with truancy Maddock(2014) notes that the problem of truancy is a two-way problem between the homeand the school. Therefore, both partieshave some equally significant roles to play towards addressing truancy. To thiseffect, Epstein (2002) points out that dealing with the high levels of truancy andchronic absenteeism has been and still remains a goal of many schools andeducation systems globally.
The upcoming paragraphs will now explain anddiscuss the role of parental involvement in dealing with truancy. They willalso discuss how parents can collaborate and partner with educators and schoolsto curb truancy. Asdemonstrated in the study findings of a considerable number of investigations,parental involvement has been touted as a possible solution and remedy to dealwith 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 toMcNeal (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 educationof their children is one of the most serious challenges faced by mostprincipals and educators which has culminated in high levels of truancy.
Considering the above claims, Lemmer et al (2009) point out that apart frompromoting and supporting learners’ learning, performance at school and theiroverall well-being, parental involvement also decreases truancy. Inaddition, Van Denventer and Kruger (2009), further remark that parentalinvolvement can potentially reduce truancy and foster a more positive attitudetowards schooling among learners. In support of the remarks made by VanDenventer and Kruger (2009), Manamela (2015) notes that for learners to attendschool on a regular basis, there is a need to have effective cooperation andcollaboration between parents, educators, the school and all members in thecommunity within which the school is located.
In the same vein, Rogers (2009)note that when parents are actively involved in the education of theirchildren, learners tend to develop a sense of initiative and accountability intheir teaching and learning activities. Consequently, they are inclined toattend school and classes on a more regular basis.Altschul(2011) conducted a study which sought to investigate the role of parentalinvolvement on the education of Mexican American youths. The study findingsdemonstrated that improved and effective parental involvement had drasticallyreduced the levels of truancy among learners. It was reported that studentswhose parents were more actively involved in their education showed high levelsof school attendance (Maina, 2008). The findings of this study were latersupported by Wanja (2014). An investigation carried out by Wanja (2014) foundparental involvement to be inversely related to truancy. Another investigationcarried out by Loomans (2014) into the benefits of parental involvement citedimproved school attendance as one of the main direct benefits of parentalinvolvement.
Themore parents were actively involved in the education of their children, theless these children were likely to be truants. In support of the abovefindings, Povey, Campbell, Willis, Haynes, Western, Bennett, Antrobus and Pedda(2016) assert that school attendance improves significantly when parents areactively involved in the education of their children. Simialrly, Van Wyk andLemmer (2009) observed that there is a positive relationship between parentalinvolvement and school attendance.
McNeal further adds that parentalinvolvement has a direct effect on student outcomes such as truancy which areassociated with academic achievement. Altschul(2011) and Manamela (2015) argue that when parents are actively involved in theeducation of their children, learners develop a more positive attitude andinterest in their school work and studies. As such, these learners will beintrinsically motivated to attend school on a daily or regular basis. Thepositive attitude and interest therefore act as motivating factor and pushbehind their school attendance.
On the contrary, when parents are not activelyinvolved, learners tend to lose interest in their studies and school work.Consequently, they will always be absent from school because they see no reasonto attend school. In any case, their parents do not care, so they will also notcare.Researcherson parental involvement and school attendance are unanimous that when learnersknow 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 towardsschooling and their studies (Van Denventer and Kruger, 2009; Loomans, 2014 and Rogers,2009). Parents who are actively involved in the education of their children maketheir children to account for their learning experiences at school. Thisautomatically creates and instils a culture of regular school attendance amonglearners, thereby reducing truancy.2.3 How can parents be involved in dealingwith truancyMcNeal(2014) notes that parental involvement is a form of social capital in whichparents invest their resources such as time and attention with the expectationthat their children will perform better at school.
For these learners to meetthe expectations of their parents, regular school attendance is compulsory.Sheldon and Epstein (2005) and McNeal (2014) point out that parent-childdiscussions and parent-monitoring are some of the most predominantconceptualisations of parental involvement which can potentially reducetruancy. McNeal(2014) in particular further points out that the theoretical dimensionsassociated with parent-teacher discussions are well documented and established.These include parents discussing school related topics with their children andemphasising the significance of schooling. This ultimately improves thelearners’ attitude and expectations, forcing them to attend school regularly.
In this regard, McNeal points out that parent-child discussion directly reducestruancy, just like parent-child monitoring.AccordingLoomans (2014) and Maddock (2014) parents can help reduce truancy byemphasising the importance of schooling to their children to ensure that theyattend school regularly. They also have an important role to play in monitoringthe learners and ensuring that they indeed attend school. Parents who givetheir children incentives for school attendance and doing well academicallyhelp to reduce truancy. Moddack (2014) maintains that through the effective useof rewards, parents can certainly promote school attendance. Maddock (2014)goes on to suggest that parents can make learners aware that they have a placein their schools and are important stakeholders.
Learners need to be made awarethat regular school attendance and engagement in teaching and learningactivities are necessary and important aspects of their roles as learners.Anotherconceptualisation of parent-child involvement looks at the extent to which theparent is actually engaged in the life of their children and knowing thewhereabouts of their children. Furthermore, Sheldon and Epstein (2005) arguethat when parents closely monitor the academic progress of their children, thebehaviour of truancy and absenteeism is altered and discouraged (McNeal, 2014).School situated educational support strategies which include the extent towhich the parents visit the schools and classrooms and speak with the educatorsof their children have also been found to have a reducing effect on the levelsand prevalence of truancy. To this end, McNeal (2014) maintains that parentalinvolvement is likely to reduce truancy when the when strategies used forparental involvement directly engage the learners as opposed to those that seekto link the parent to the child’s educational environment. Manamela(2015) further warns that schools and educators cannot ensure that learnersattend school regularly as and when they are supposed to. Similarly, parentswill not know whether or not their children are indeed at school if there is noeffective 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 andeffective communication networks and channels are a prerequisite. Parentsneed to inform the school and relevant educators if their children are notgoing to be at school and provide the necessary reason for such absenteeism.Similarly, educators need to constantly communicate with parents every time alearner is not at school or in the classroom (Maddock, 2014). It is very easyfor learners to loiter around between the school and the home if there is noeffective communication regarding the learners’ absenteeism between all thestakeholders involved. Manamela (2015) and Maddock (2014) are in agreement thatsuch effective communication channels can be established through the use ofnewsletters, telephones, emails and short messages.Maddock(2014) further suggests that record keeping by both parents and educators cancontribute towards reducing the problem of truancy in schools. Accurate recordson learner attendance and absenteeism should be kept for comparison andreference purposes during parent meetings and other parents’ visits to theschool.
This requires educators take daily class registers while parents arealso expected to find ways to record their children’s school attendance. Povey et al (2016) note that parents can beinvolved in the education of their children to deal with truancy by simplyshowing interest in the schooling activities of their children. Maddock (2014)suggest that parents can show interest in the education of their children byasking them what they did or learnt at school. Furthermore, they should act andserve as role models to their children and adopt a zero tolerance to truancyand absenteeism. Accordingto Van Denventer and Kruger (2009), parental involvement has a profound effecton the culture of teaching and learning.
Learners whose parents are moreactively involved in their education grow under and adopt a culture ofeffective schooling and learning. One of the characteristics of a typicalculture of effective schooling and learning is regular school attendance.Maddock (2014) maintains that parents play an important role in communicatingpositive behaviour to the learners. Family culture and how the family viewschooling can contribute towards truancy. As such, parents need to alwayspositively view schooling in front of learners to promote school attendance.
Eastman,Cooney, O’Connor and Small (2007); McNeal (2014) and Maddock (2014) agree thatparents should educate their children about the dangers and consequences oftruancy. They should warn their children about the legal implications andramifications of failing to attend school when they are legally obliged to doso. Reuters suggest that parents increased parental involvement, familymediation and counselling can drastically reduce truancy.
Eastman et al (2007) add that parents andcommunities can also work with schools and collaborate with them in settingrules for school attendance and in enforcing these rules fairly andconsistently.Aninvestigation conducted by Manamela (2015) on parental involvement in Kgakotlouschools in Limpopo province revealed identified lack of parental involvement asa major contributing factor for challenges such as truancy which wereexperienced by the schools in that district. Furthermore, Maddock (2014) warnsthat parents can create a negative perception about the school and schoolingwhich may ultimately discourage learners from attending school in future. Forinstance, if a parent regards, discusses and blames the school of not doing,showing or implementing curriculum practices that are meaningful, learners willadopt a negative attitude about the school.
2.4 Summary of Review of Related Literature.Parentshave an important role to play in dealing with truancy since they have to beactively involved in all initiatives and attempts done by the schools andeducators to curb truancy. Parents can therefore contribute through activelyparticipating in monitoring the academic progress of their children, theirschool attendance, emphasising the importance of schooling and the consequencesof truancy.
Effective communication between the school and the home has alsobeen found to be an effective way through which parents can be involved intowards addressing truancy.