The effect of parental attitude: Education and well-being

Literature Review

This section is subdivided into three sections. The first section is about parental attitude and formal education. The second section is about formal education and psychosocial well-being, and the third section is about parental attitude and psychosocial well-being.

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Parental Attitude and Formal Education

A recent study supported the assumption that parental attitude plays a key role in the academic success of Latino children in the United States. Parental attitude involves investing family resources in the education of the child. These resources may include financial support that is dependent on the socioeconomic status of the parents which is recognized as a predictor of academic performance (Bacete & Remirez, 2001; Chrispeels & Rivero, 2001; Crosnoe, 2001). Parents’ psychological support to their children also influences academic achievement (Fan, 2001). Another resource that appears related to academic performance is the provision of scholastic materials (Goldenberg, Gallimore, Reese & Garnier, 2001).

The negative attitude of parents and children towards education in preference for other occupations has been found to be a major attitudinal factor in explaining school dropout elsewhere, but it had not been empirically proved to apply to school dropout in Karamojong in Uganda. In Klothen’s (1994) study, it was found out that about 20 percent of children who had dropped out of school did so because their parents preferred them to start working and fending for themselves. The reason for this negative attitude was that there were no good jobs for children who had attended school and therefore, it was a waste of time and money to send children to school. For the girls, they were usually encouraged to get involved in domestic activities. Clark (1994) established that older children were more likely than younger children to be needed to provide labour (McCorkle, Stathacos, and Maxwell 1995). However, to what extent these could explain the situation experienced in Karamojong in Uganda was not known. The study, therefore, set out to find out whether dropout of girl-children in secondary school was due to the parents’ negative attitude towards schooling.

According to Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (2000), another commonly cited attitudinal factor for children not currently attending school, was the schools being too far from the household. The survey established that the distance to the nearest school was virtually a non-factor in urban areas, while it was a common reason for not attending school in rural areas. It was assumed that this might also be true in the Karamojong parents not allowing their girl children to stay in schools that are far away, especially when they would want them to go for marriage. This could be true given that there are only three secondary schools where girls can attend, in Moroto District.

The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (2000) also established another attitudinal factor related to age and maturity as parental attitudes to getting their girl-children out of school. However, with regard to Karamojong, how it was related to girl-children’s dropping out was not explained. Therefore, this study set out to fill this gap.

In some pastoral societies, girls make up most of the out-of-school children (UNICEF, 2000). There are several reasons why girls drop out of school. This may be due to the fact that, as girls move to a different household with marriage, to pay for their education is not considered a good investment (Fratkin, Roth & Nathan, 1999). To the extent to which education is associated with status, a woman is supposed to be less educated than her husband; therefore a girl’s education will actually reduce the choice of potential husbands, particularly within the pastoral context. On the other hand, a marriage outside the pastoral economy may not bring livestock and, above all, is less likely to expand the pastoral social network of the household.

In many pastoral societies, girls are considered to be the bearers of the [extended] family honor (Abu-Saad et al., 1998) or of traditional values and cultural continuity. In these cases, they are ardently protected against the risk of external interference such as formal education interfering with the cultural heritage (Moroto District Education Services, 2003). This may ruin a girl’s life forever, as she will not be able to find a husband. In these situations, parents will find it impossible to send their daughters to schools, if that involves distant travel and losing sight of the girls for long hours.

Cultural alienation may also be perceived as a more serious problem where females are concerned. A study amongst the Rabaris of Kutch India, noted that success at school entails adaptation to the culture of the school, which does not reflect the cultural values at home. These tensions find their strongest expressions in reservations over the schooling of girls, since the Rabaris see women as the carriers of their culture (Dyer & Choksi, 1997).

A report on non-formal education in northern Kenya pointed out how the mothers escorted girls to attend an out-of-school program (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, 1999). They did this in order to provide security on the way and to make sure that what is taught at school did not in any way interfere with culture (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, 1999). Therefore, out-of-school programs seem to attract higher proportions of girls than formal schools. This is probably a matter of making parents more sensitive to the importance of girls’ education or making the system more sensitive to the difficulties of girls due to parental attitude in joining formal schooling, despite their interest in education.

A lack of interest in education may be due to parents’ choices to keep some of the children at home and send others to school (Grawal, 1992). This behavior cannot be explained on a purely financial basis, as both poor and wealthy households share it. The rationale for such choices is to be found in the pastoral economy, both contextual to the time of the choice and future, as perceived and planned at household level. The basic productive unit in the pastoral economy is the household. The logic that drives parents’ choices about their children’s education is a household logic, based on considerations such as risk distribution, opportunity costs and labor demand at household level. In Mongolia, among the Khot ail, a traditional semi-nomadic herding group, parents’ decisions not to enroll their girl children at school or to withdraw them are usually taken keeping in mind the best interest of the household (Mearns, 1993).

Studies on education in Tibet (Bass, 1998) and the Bedouins in the Negev desert (Abu-Saad et al., 1998) pointed out that girl children, whose primary school enrolment is low, are deprived of their right to education by their parents for economic or religious reasons. In this context, parents perceive education provision as one in which the families face high costs with the perspective of very low gain.

While schooling is seen to bring many advantages, Rabaris of Kutch India recognized that schools promote values that are often different from their own (Anderson, 1999). For girls, as women, are seen as carriers of their cultural values, so schooling is viewed with ambivalence. This is less so for men, partly because upholding cultural values is not directly associated with them, but also because there is a much stronger expectation that a boy’s education will be linked to his earning potential. Rabaris consider the education of girls a relatively poor investment, since the girl will marry into a different family (Anderson, 1999). School education is seen as an asset in the marriage market, but it is considered unseemly for a girl to have a higher level of schooling than her prospective spouse.

Some writers and researchers have argued that differences, or discontinuities, between the educational values and beliefs of parents and the values and beliefs needed for success in schools are responsible for these students’ low levels of academic achievement (Home-School Project, 2004). Still others argue that parents develop attitudes and values that are dysfunctional for optimal school achievement. These two perspectives, different as they are, have at least one thing in common: They attribute the difficulties youngsters have in schools to discrepancies or discontinuities between parental values and beliefs about schooling, and the values and beliefs assumed to be important in a society.

In some important respects, the attitudes of the parents do differ from that of the schools the children attend. These differences are important. Differences in attitudes and differences between how children are socialized at home and taught at school can interfere with students’ school adaptation and performance (Halpern, 1990; Jones, 2001; Fan & Chen, 2002). Similarly, parents represent important continuities with traditional features—including values and attitudes—of their cultures.

Formal Education and Psychosocial Well-being

Psychosocial well-being in this study focuses on autonomy, self-esteem, social relationships and purpose in life. Holec (cited in Benson & Voller, 1997) described autonomy as “the ability to take charge of one’s life”. The relevant literature is riddled with innumerable definitions of autonomy and other synonyms for it; such as “independence” (Sheerin, 1991), “awareness” (Lier, 1996; James & Garrett, 1991) and “self-direction” (Candy, 1991); which testifies to the importance attached to it by scholars.

According to UNICEF (2000), every child is born with a right to formal education. This is because formal education is the foundation of many children’s rights and thus it is critical to a child’s development and well-being (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977). Through formal education, children are given an opportunity to participate in matters that affect them, protect themselves from harm, ensure for their social stability and economic development to help them survive and thrive (Carmen, 1996). Carmen notes that giving formal educational opportunity to girls can ensure them of good health care and proper nutrition and protection from violence, abuse, exploitation and discrimination. Despite Carmen’s (1996) observation, research has established that a significant group of children live in disadvantaged circumstances, such that their opportunities to benefit from education are particularly limited (Nolin et. al., 1997).

Green (2000) also observed that low educational attainment is often associated with social deprivation, affecting their social relations with others. This, in turn, can lead to reduced opportunities for employment, and unemployment and poverty is correlated with ill health. He noted that studies have demonstrated that qualification level is a better predictor of better well-being of the individual. Ettner and Grzywacz (2001) also concurred with Green (2000) that higher salaries and less monotonous jobs enabled the girls to experience purpose in their life than people with less education. They further observed that better educated people have more control over their work (autonomy) than people with less education. While the correlation between inequalities in education and well-being and the effects of well-being on educational achievement are well established, the extent to which education as a factor influences well-being is not yet known among Karamojong girls. This is an issue of this study.

In a World Health Organization (2003) study, it was established that giving birth during adolescence is associated with limited educational attainment, which in turn can reduce future employment prospects and earnings potential. According to Donahue and Benson (1995), most researchers have reported that high levels of education are linked with low levels of delinquency.

Some studies indicate that being highly educated may help to steer teens away from early sexual activity (Brownfield & Sorenson, 1991). Researchers have found that teens who attain high levels of education have lower levels of sexual experience and have more conservative attitudes about sexual activity than other teens. This did not expose teens to risks related to sexual activity and the psychosocial consequences that can arise out of this, thus did not deny them a purpose in life. This may not be the case for the Karamojong girls whose formal education is low.

Parental Attitude and Psychosocial Well-being

Internationally, there has been increasing concern for the education of young girls, which often lags behind that of boys, beginning and reinforcing a long cycle of parental discrimination (Government of India, 1987). This discrimination arises due to parents’ attitude towards the girls’ formal education and takes various forms, such as denial of part or all of the financial and psychological support for girls’ formal education. Grawal (1992) observes that this discrimination harms the psychosocial well-being of girls, redefining girls’ roles of work at home and in the shared culture.

Many parents don’t realize how important it is to get involved in their children’s learning. When parents are involved in their children’s education, both children and parents are likely to benefit. It is one of the best investments a family can make. Researchers report that parental involvement in their children’s schooling frequently enhances children’s self-esteem, improves children’s academic achievement, improves parent-child relationships, helps parents develop positive attitudes towards school and a better understanding of the schooling process and helps children graduate from high school at higher rates and be more likely to go on to higher education (Singleton, 2004).

Shaw et. al. (cited in Parker, 2004) also found that children who receive abundant support from their parents reported fewer psychological and physical problems during childhood than children who receive less parental support. They concluded that early parental support shaped people’s sense of personal control, self-esteem and family relationships, which in turn affect the individuals’ depressive symptoms and physical health.

A study of the care of children at the Hospital for Children in Toronto also provided evidence that psychological support played a role in the extent to which children developed good social relations with other people (Young, 1992). It revealed that children felt their developmental and emotional needs were achieved when they received psychological support towards their schooling. In this study, the developmental needs are represented as the autonomy, while the emotional needs are represented as self-esteem, social relationship and purpose in life.

Furthermore, girls and boys are raised from the beginning to take on very different roles and to exhibit different characteristics (Anderson, 1999). Thus, in some cases, the expected behavior of girls makes them more likely to succeed in schooling than boys. In other cases, the expectations of girls preclude their real participation in education. However, Anderson (1999) noted that though there is much good will to address the inequities of opportunities for girls to receive basic education, it cannot be assumed that educated girls will be embraced by their culture or easily take on new roles. Anderson (1999) implied that education could not magically “erase” all gender inequities or resolve the problems created as traditional roles disintegrate, and when girls are left uncertain as to how they can successfully meet their needs. In other words, while girls’ participation in education is important, it needs to be addressed within the context of each country’s values, goals and child rearing practices. It is necessary to identify the gender socialization patterns, which support or impede the successful participation of girls in changing societies.

With respect to review of literature in this section, it may be that negative Karamojong parental attitude towards formal education of girl dropouts is related to low formal education of girl dropouts. The Karamojong parental attitude towards formal education of girl dropouts is in the form of lack/limited financial and psychological support.

There is a relationship between Karamojong parental attitude towards formal education of girl dropouts and formal education of girl dropouts.
There is a relationship between formal education of girl dropouts and psychosocial well-being of the girl dropouts.
There is a relationship between Karamojong parental attitude towards formal education of girl dropouts and psychosocial well-being of the girl dropouts.

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