Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Impact of Parental Socioeconomic Status on Students' Academic Achievement in Secondary Schools in Tanzania

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Impact of Parental Socioeconomic Status on Students' Academic Achievement in Secondary Schools in Tanzania

Article excerpt


The aim of the study was to assess the impact of parental socioeconomic status (SES) on students' academic achievement in secondary schools. Two research objectives guided the study. They are: How does parents' occupation, income, level of education and home environment affect students' academic achievement in secondary schools? To what extent does parental involvement in education of their children enhance academic achievement? The study employed a qualitative research approach informed by a case study research design. A purposive sampling technique was used to obtain 60 informants drawn from amongst parents, teachers and students. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews and focused group discussions. Data were analysed qualitatively using thematic analysis.

The study found that majority of the students from the selected secondary schools are from low SES. The study established that there is a close relationship between SES and academic achievement. The study further found that majority of the parents are not involved in the learning of their children as well as in the school improvement programmes. The study recommends that the government should review the policy of cost sharing and make it free to o-level students especially to low SES students. In addition, schools should have professional guidance and counsellors to help students with problems to reduce the gap between low and high SES.

Keywords: academic achievement, socioeconomic status, secondary schools, Tanzania

1. Introduction

The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and students' academic achievement has been documented among many populations (Ahmad & Khan, 2012; Ngorosho, 2011; Ahawo, 2009; Otula, 2007). For example, Ahmad and Khan (2012) and Ahmar and Anwar (2013) found a significant relationship between parental socioeconomic conditions and academic achievements of the children in secondary examination and it was concluded that the majority of children whose parents have better socioeconomic conditions performed better in secondary examination as compared to those children whose parents had low socioeconomic conditions. Ngorosho (2011) found five key variables (fathers' and mothers' education, house wall material, light source, and the number of books for school subjects in the homes) as significant indicators of home environment in rural eastern Tanzania. Ahawo (2009) found that in modern society, parents' influence plays a very important role in the academic life of a student. According to Otula (2007), effective provision of secondary education is hampered by SES of parents. Parents from low SES fail to provide their children with basic requirements for schools including books, pens or pencils, proper nutrition and supportive environment for learning.

It is generally accepted that parental SES has an impact on students' academic achievement. For example, children whose parents are of high educational scales have a far better statistical chance of participating in secondary education (Halsey, Health & Ridge, 1980). Otula (2007) supported this by stating that effective learning involves partnership of students, teachers and parents. Parents' level of education has a multifaceted impact on children's ability to learn in school. In one study, children whose parents had primary school education or less were more than three times likely to have low test scores or grade repetition than children whose parents had at least secondary schooling (Goodwin & Goodwin, 1995). In the same study, it was also found that parents' level of education not only influenced parent-child interaction related to learning but also the need for help at home that often comes at the expense of keeping children in school

Parents with little formal education may also be less familiar with the language used in school, limiting their ability to support learning and participate in school related activities (Omoraka, 2001). …

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