AN ASSESSMENT OF COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AS A TOOL FOR IMPROVING PUPIL LEARNING IN SELECTED PRIMARY SCHOOLS OF LUSAKA
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The aim of this study was to assess how community participation can be used as a tool to improve pupil learning in selected primary schools of Lusaka District. The research design was a case study. Qualitative methodology was used to collect and analyze data. The methods used were interviews and focus group discussions. The study applied two sampling methods, simple random and purposive sampling in coming up with the sample. Purposive sampling was used in selecting Emmasdale zone of Lusaka due to proximity. Once the zone was selected, all the schools in the zone were numbered. Four random numbers were then picked to select the participating schools. Once a school was selected, its head teacher, Parent Teachers Committee chairperson and grade teachers automatically became part of the sample. Further, simple random method was used to select parents to be interviewed and participate in the focus group discussions. The data was analyzed thematically bygrouping identical data into themes generated from the research objectives. The research findings showed that, there was vast evidence that various stakeholders understood the need for their participation in the education system. There was also clear understanding among stakeholders of what form this participation ought to take. All stakeholders equally had good knowledge of some of the challenges and hindrances to community participation in Emmasdale zone. However, one other key finding of the study was the evident variation in understanding what and how various stakeholders could and should participate in the education system to improve pupil performance. School authorities were clear on how parents can help while among parents and community leaders some had no clear idea while other completely knew nothing and did not care. The research findings also revealed that the difficulties experienced by parents across all the four schools were as follows: alcoholism, lack of school policies on parental involvement, parents’ poverty status, illiteracy, lack of understanding,parents’ defensive attitude, lack of cooperation among parents, poor attitude among some pupils and parents, apathy and high unemployment levels. It was concluded that, the selected schools were all from densely populated areas with high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty. With illiteracy, it is expected that there would be little appreciation of education and/ or understanding of roles that parents and community could play in the system to enhance pupil learning. It is by and large incumbent on the school authorities to cultivate the knowledge and culture to believe in education and show them that education is the way for their children to escape the status they themselves are in. There is also need for vigorous sensitisation programs by schools aimed at enlightening parents on the value of education and how parents can contribute to improved learning of the children.
The University of Zambia