An Investigation into the relationship between home background and scholastic achievement of a group of Junior Secondary School Pupils in Zambia

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Kapambwe, Godfrey Mwango
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This research investigated' the home background of 200 Zambia Junior Secondary School pupils, fifteen to nineteen years old, equally divided between high and low-achievers (i.e. between pupils with division I or II and division III or IV-) and matched for ability and sex. The basic rationale for this study arose out of the realization that few studies relating to the effect of home background on pupils' scholastic achievement have been conducted in Africa. It was felt that though researchers in the West unanimously agree that home background variables have a bearing on scholastic achievement, the cultural differences between the West and Africa and the contradictory nature of results from a limited number of African studies cannot warrant application of these findings to all parts of Africa. Therefore, before generalizations are made, it was felt necessary that similar studies be conducted in as many parts of Africa as possible. The study was also prompted by the unimpressive results at the Junior Secondary School level. These poor results viewed in the context of: a threat to social, political and economic stability due to unemployment; shortage of middle-level skilled educated manpower; and the large investments made in secondary education in a period of increasing financial stringency, formed the other rationale for this study. It was assumed that since students do very well at Grade VII level in order to qualify for secondary school but do poorly later, factors operating outside the classroom and particularly at home may be of greater importance at secondary school level. While transmission of skills and knowledge is extremely important at primary school level, at secondary school a pupil has not only to supplement what happens in the classroom by his private study at home but also needs constant encouragement and support from parents. The main objective of the study was to determine whether there were significant variations on home background variables between pupils of comparable intellectual ability but differing scholastic achievement. In this way, it was hoped to identify the forces that make or mar educational promise at the Junior Secondary School level. It was hypothesized that high-achievers would gain significantly higher mean scores than low-achievers on scales designed to measure each of the following variables: parental education; reading habits in the home; parental income; parental occupation; housing conditions; overcrowding; family-size; birth-order; parental attitudes towards education, school and teachers; parental encouragement and support afforded the pupil at home; and the emotional satisfaction enjoyed by the pupil at home. The data obtained mere subjected to the A-test statistical analysis (this test yields the same results as the t-test since the statistical formula has been derived from the t-ratio) in order to determine whether the differences between the two groups mere statistically significant. The study found statistically significant differences between high-and low-achievers on all, except two variables (family-size and birth-order). This meant that of the eleven variables investigated, nine were potent factors in the scholastic achievement of secondary school children. The study recommended the following measures to counteract the effect of impoverished home environment: social reform (as a long-term measure); compensatory education; guidance and counseling; closer relationships between the home and the school; identification of deprived pupils by the beginning of secondary education; and regular physical examinations among secondary school pupils (as short-term measures).
Home and school. , Education, Secondary -- Zambia.