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Background of the study

Provision of education is a responsibility of the government worldwide. In Uganda, the Government through the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), provides administration and management for the betterment of the national education system. Key policy decisions regarding education and other educational services have always been made by the state at least since the attainment of independence.  However, schools whether government aided or private, have stakeholders who undertake various activities. School management therefore is done through the coalition of stakeholders, performing different complementary functions in order to attain school objectives and goals. The quality of management services, determines the survival and progress of organizations such as schools.

Although the planning and management of education has largely been a role of the state, Adongo (2006) reports that, in the mid 1970s, leading economists in universities in Europe and donor agencies began to criticize governments’ direct involvement in service delivery. The governments were criticized for mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption, lack of planning and related problems. Consequently, in the 1980s there was a shift to community involvement in service delivery.  In Uganda, primary education has been decentralized to ensure community participation and provision of quality education. At secondary level, whether government aided or private, schools rely heavily on parents’ financial and managerial contribution. Unless all stakeholders are involved, school achievements including students’ performance may not be realized.

The role of parents in school management today is rooted in the Education Policy Review Commission (EPRC 1989) report.Their responsibility revolves around financial mobilization, discipline and monitoring the performance of the school. Parents are said to be partners, clients, consumers and educational assistants in as far as management of schools is concerned (Thomson, 2001). However, in Sub -Sahara Africa, due to extreme poverty and financial constraints, there have been challenges in the provision of education. Many countries reported difficulties in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers, especially for teaching Mathematics and Sciences, (Bregman and Armstrong, 2003). Due to poverty in the developing world and more so in rural areas, parents may not afford providing school materials or paying tuition fees which fund is used to pay teachers, buy scholastic materials and laboratory equipment, or provide for the welfare of teachers and students in order to contribute towards the achievement of academic success.

Docking (1980) as quoted by Babirye (2006) argues that discipline as a managerial function is important in the process by which children develop and are enabled to perform in society. Although he appreciates the significance of

discipline to children’s performance, he does not point out parents’ roles in ensuring children’s discipline yet they are a party in child development and school management. In most rural schools, parents tend to keep aloof and lack knowledge on education affairs as they watch the discipline and academic standards declining. Yet the importance of parental participation in school management should ultimately be vested in the improvement of academic standards of their children. Unless the roles of parents in disciplinary issues and other managerial areas is strengthened, there may be continued questions regarding satisfactory performance. Therefore, the study intended to point out parents’ roles and to show how they should carry out their responsibility in ensuring children’s discipline which is a prerequisite for better performance of children.

In a study carried out by Feyfant and Rey (2006) in Scottish schools, it was concluded that for more than 10 years now, parents’ role in school was the main factor responsible for ‘school market’ in this sense meaning the popularity of the school. From Uganda’s experience, the popularity of schools is so much linked to how many first grades (academic performance) a school may achieve in given consecutive years. This prompted the researcher to find out the extent to which failure or success in academics may be attributed to parents’ participation in school management.

This was especially so if it is taken into account that the schools that achieve the best of these results are known to have the parents of their students actively involved in the activities of the schools. specifically, these schools have powerful school management committees/ boards of governors as well as vibrant Parents and Teachers Associations, through which the partner with the schools and demand accountability from the school managers from time to time. It is against this background that the researcher had the belief that parental participation in school management could be influencing students’ academic performance

Implementation of policies at school level is done with the participation of all concerned stakeholders, parents being a party. A case in point is the policy making the study of science subjects compulsory at the ordinary level of education. Sciences have become key determinants of how many first grades a school may get since they are a priority in the best eight subjects considered. Implementation of such a policy requires the participation of all stakeholders. For instance, during Board of Governors (BOG) and Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs) meetings, parents need to recommend allocation of a suitable amount of money to equip school libraries and laboratories. Parents and school administrators also need to provide a good reading environment both at school and at home. In rural areas where schools are still unable to provide all academic requirements, parents may have to supplement school supplies and libraries with reading materials like textbooks for their children’s home library. Such complementary roles may improve students’ academic performance. However, Griffith (2001) reports that socio-economically disadvantaged parents usually lack skills, abilities and interest to help in the school and in their children’s education. The researcher hoped to discuss, analyze and recommend how parents, irrespective of their socio-economic status may contribute to the improvement of their children’s academic performance in Buyaga schools.

Carnie (2003) shows that there is need to offer opportunities to parents in order to participate in decision making processes that focus on the achievement of school objectives.  Parents need to participate in matters pertaining to strategic planning, policies, budgeting and cyclical evaluation programmes. After all, quoting Gorton (1983) Kaggwa (2003) observes that no administrator can effectively perform all administrative functions alone. School administrators have always called upon parents to motivate students’ academic endeavors. Parents should also offer career guidance especially the choice of subject combinations and directing students in their home works.  However, Eccless and Harold (1996) as quoted by Nancy Etal (2004) observe that parents’ confidence in their own intellectual abilities is the most salient predictor of their participation in children’s schooling.  Parents need to be guided on the knowledge and skills of secondary school management. The researcher hoped to use collected data from shareholders in order to make necessary recommendations for the improvement of parents’ participation in school management.

Although each citizen has a right to education (constitution of Uganda 1995 Article 30) achievement of quality academic performance is a challenging task that requires effective collaboration of school partners. Enhancing quality academic performance is the major objective of schools as organizations although different stakeholders tend to act differently towards it. This study will be related to theory X and Y of McGregor (1960). According to McGregor’s theory X, people have little capacity and creativity to solve organizational problems while theory Y holds that the capacity to solve organizational problems is widely distributed in the population (Hersey etal, 2002). Since McGregor’s theory is based on the classification of how people get involved in work, this study wants to use this theory as a reflection of how various stakeholders in a school as an organisation behave in their participation towards the promotion of students’ academic performance taking Buyaga as a case study.

A school has been defined by Webster (1993) as an organized body of scholars and teachers associated for the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.   Mukasa (1998) on the other hand defines it as a community of living active people where teachers in a classroom environment pass formal education to learners.  A school therefore facilitates education. Nkata (1998), quoting Benveniste (1977), defines participation as sharing of power or the exercise of ‘voice’ in the affairs of the organisation. He also summarizes Shaeffer’s (1991) ideas about participation through consultation on a particular issue, involvement in service delivery, contribution of resources material and labor, participation in decision making processes and so on. For purposes of this research, parents’ participation was considered in terms of their contribution both physically and cognitively towards the establishment, implementation and effective provision of education in schools.  Parents’ participation was measured by their contribution, collaboration involvement and influence on academic processes in the schools being studied. The study will use result of the analyzed data including those of Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB).

Academic performance has been defined by Kaggwa (2003) and the World Bank (2002) as the quality and quantity of knowledge, skills, techniques and positive attitudes, behaviors and philosophy that students achieve. This achievement is evaluated by the mark or grade that students attain in tests or examinations done at the end of the topic, term or year or education cycle World Bank (2002). Therefore, the quality of the grades and the number of students that pass in various grades, determine the level of academic performance.  In schools, academic performance is a concern of people who have vested interest in schools. These may include parents, students, the staff, proprietors and the entire society that forms the school as a system or community.

Management has been defined  by Sapre (2002), quoted  by Bush (2003) as a set of activities directed towards efficient and effective utilization of resources in order to achieve organizational goals. Secondary school management in particular refers to the application of management theory and practice to educational institutions (Okumbe 1998). Managerial functions include planning, organizing directing, controlling resources, staffing, coordinating reporting and budgeting (Koontz and O’Donnell 1986). In this study parents participation in school management was evaluated in relation to  financing or organizing resources, disciplining, budgeting, and implementation of school policies as the major managerial functions in which parents mainly involve themselves and which aspects  may directly affect students’ academic performance.

Buyaga County is one of the three Counties that form Kibaale District found in mid western Uganda. According to Uganda Rural Development Trust (2006) the District is predominantly rural, has low literacy levels and rampant poverty. Kibaale District covers approximately 1575 square km. and has a population 412,427 people according to the population survey 2002.  The secondary schools available in the area are community founded or church founded or individual founded. However, they lie under government grant aided and private secondary schools. Whether government aided or not, these schools face the same administrative challenges.  They are characterized by poor facilities, poor structures, competition for students, poor academic performance and insufficient provision of school demands from parents (Kibaale district D.E.O quarterly report –June 2006).  This study is intended to establish the role of parents in solving those challenges and the extent to which their contribution affects students’ academic performance.

Nancy and Lorraine (2004) observe that parent- school relationship do not occur in isolation but in community and cultural contexts. Considering Buyaga, where most people are peasants and are of low socio-economic status with low levels of income; parents are likely to find difficulty in providing school requirements and sustaining their children in school.  This is especially likely in the case of Kibaale District, since Bunyoro kingdom, where the district is located, was generally excluded from formal education since the colonial days (Mirima 2006). Lack of educational skills may affect parents’ role in evaluating and planning for good academic performance with the administrative staff (Nancy and Loraine (2004).

In Buyaga, it is a common phenomenon for students to change schools or miss classes especially when sent home for lack of school fees.  It is also common for some financially able parents to transfer their children from Buyaga schools to Kampala schools or elsewhere in the country, especially when their children are potential academic achievers.  It is to be noted that if this continues, the schools in Buyaga will not be helped to develop yet many parents may not have the ability to take their pupils to schools in other districts that have better developed schools. Particularly notable, are the facts that: 1) parents in Buyaga Sub County are reluctant to participate in the management of their children’s schools; and 2) the schools’ performance is consistently poor. It is against this background that the researcher undertook to find out whether parents’ participation in the management of secondary schools in the area is related to students’ academic performance, to inform efforts to improve the school system in Buyaga Sub County. Specific attention was placed on the parents’ participation in the facilitation of the education of their children; discipline management; and their influence on the schools’ academic performance.

Statement of the Problem

The academic performance of Buyaga Sub County is below the national average performance (Ahimbisibwe and Businge, 2009). Some schools of Buyaga county had continuously achieved no first grades and less than 10% second grades although they had qualified teaching staff. Yet, Buyaga students whose parents managed to take to Kampala schools or else where in the country tended to excel or compete favorably in academics, a sign of academic potentiality on the side of students. Schools where parents were relatively active in issues of financing, disciplining and follow up of school management related activities seemed to perform relatively better than those where parents were reluctant. However, research had not been conducted on the relationship between the parents’ low participation and the schools’ academic performance. Yet unless it was clearly understood as to how this has influenced academic performance in the area, parents in the sub county might continue to be reluctant to participate in the management of the schools. Moreover, amidst the introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE), this was particularly likely, since some parents might erroneously construe the responsibility for the education of their children as resting with the government and schools. This is despite the fact that many school administrators in the area are already complaining that their efforts to improve the quality of education are being frustrated by lack of infrastructure, scholastic materials poor staff remuneration and they feel that the burden of improving students’ academic performance is being left to them. Therefore the researcher was motivated to investigate the influence of parental participation in school management on students’ academic performance, to guide efforts to improve academic performance through increased parental participation in school management hence, the justification for the study.