Exploring systems and nature of parental involvement in early childhood education (ECE) in Mwembeshi and Westwood Communities in Chilanga District, Zambia

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Lungu, Kelvin
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Numerous studies done on parental involvement all bear evidence of the many gains that come from this practice (Hornby, 1995, Epstein, 1985; Ndhlovu, 2005). This study sought to ascertain the existence of mechanisms, policies and the nature of parental involvement in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The study culminated from the absence of studies in Zambia on parental involvement in ECE. A sample of 26 respondents was purposively selected and subjected to interviews. The study was mainly qualitative in nature that used descriptive surveys. Thematic analyses were used to deal with the collected data.Findings from the study revealed that structures of collaboration were existent in schools, but policies and guidelines of engagement were either weak or non-existent. It was further revealed that parents were variously involved in their children‟s education at home but, overall, home support was less desirable. The study further revealed that teachers became exceedingly gratified and motivated when parents keenly took part in the education of their children. However, teachers did not put in place mechanisms of encouraging parental participation and visitations to schools. Despite being a highly appreciated practice, parental involvement in ECE was seen to be low. Several barriers were highlighted as being impediments to effective involvement. These included among others; poverty, illiteracy, low esteem, single status of parents, time constraints and long distances to schools.Arising from these, several recommendtions were advanced to stakeholders. Government through the Ministry of Education Science Vocational Training and Early Education (MESVTEE) was urged to put in place elaborate policies and guidelines that would spur increased collaboration of parents and teachers. Similarly, teachers were urged to put in place increased awareness programmes and involve parents more in decision-making. Parents were also encouraged to be proactive and provide supportive learning environments at home for continued learning. It was further recommended that parents further needed to take the initiative of visiting schools and demonstrate to the educators that they were concerned and willing to participate in educating their children.
Early childhood education