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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

MMOTLANE, Ronnie; WINNAAR, Lolita  and  KIVILU, Mbithi wa. Personal characteristics that predict South Africans' participation in activities of their children's schools. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2009, vol.29, n.4, pp. 527-540. ISSN 0256-0100.

We investigated the extent to which personal characteristics such as age, marital status, education level, living standard measure (LSM), environmental milieu, race, gender and employment status predict parents' participation in the activities of their children's schools. The data used for analysis were drawn from 5,734 South Africans aged 16+ years who participated in the Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC) annual South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS). Respondents (n = 1,364) who had at least one child in school were selected for the analysis. The logistic regression model was used to estimate the extent to which personal characteristics would predict parents' level of participation. Results showed that personal characteristics such as age, marital status, gender, and living standard measure (LSM) had a significant influence on parental participation. Amongst these, gender was the most significant factor. Respondents aged 35-49 years were 1.5 times more likely than those aged 50+ years to participate in their children's school activities. Respondents who were married were more likely than those who had never married to participate. Mothers were more likely than fathers to participate in their children's school activities. The literature suggests that American fathers show some interest in participating in activities of their children's schools, at least in the first few years, but discontinue that participation in time. The results confirm a common belief in some communities in South Africa that fathers do not take seriously their responsibility to provide for their children and their partners in that regard from the onset. Even though the results on personal characteristics support existing theory and empirical literature on parental participation, a multidimensional perspective is needed that would incorporate other factors into the study.

Keywords : multidimensional perspective; parental participation; parents; personal characteristics; psychological characteristics; school activities.

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