Factors That Influence Parents’ Choice of Public Schools and Private Schools

Factors That Influence Parents’ Choice of Public Schools and Private Schools

Factors That Influence Parents’ Choice of Public Schools and Private Schools

 

Abstract on Factors That Influence Parents’ Choice of Public Schools and Private Schools

Parents of higher occupational prestige, income and social status, and wider social networks are more likely to choose private primary schools for their children.

Their strong networks give them more accurate information on school quality and characteristics as opposed to less accurate information obtained by lower income families.

Excellence and quality assurance in education is of great concern to any responsible society, governments and parents. Parents enroll their wards in private secondary schools for their wards to have qualitative and functional education that will help the children to fit in to this competitive and dynamic society. It seems that private secondary schools are fulfilling these expectations of parents. But private secondary are entirely privately run without any financial assistance from the government. This implies that any one opting for private secondary schools must pay for this service. But an overwhelming percentage of our population lives below the poverty line (NEEDS 2006) and cannot pay for education in private secondary schools. Public secondary schools on the other hand are open to all both rich and poor. Society and government cannot afford to toy with quality and excellence in public secondary schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors influencing parental perception on their preference for private secondary schools. This would help to understand the areas that private secondary schools are doing better and government could emphasis that areas for public secondary schools to improve upon.

Chapter One of  Factors That Influence Parents’ Choice of Public Schools and Private Schools

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Parents are the primary caregivers of their children and have the responsibility of educating their children in a school of their choice. According to Fung and Lam (2011), parents will exercise their divine right of choice and make the best interests of their children a priority. This choice is often informed by the family’s socioeconomic status (Malmberg, Andersson & Bergsten, 2013). Parents of higher occupational prestige, income and social status, and wider social networks are more likely to choose private primary schools for their children (Maangi, 2014) than parents of lower income status and smaller social networks. Their strong networks give them more accurate information on school quality and characteristics as opposed to less accurate information obtained by lower income families (Allen, Burgess, & McKenna, 2014).

As observed by Darmody, Smyth and McCoy (2012), parental choice of school is rarely determined by a single factor but by several interlinking factors. In Australia, Beamish and Morey (2013) found that parents give preference to schools with high academic quality and performance. They also consider proximity to home as a major factor influencing school choice. A school that is more than 30 minutes of travel is not considered a realistic choice (Beamish & Morey, 2013). There is a similarity between Australia and USA where parents choose small class sizes, which they believe provide more individual attention and better education quality (Fung & Lam, 2011).

According to Rehman, Khan, Tariq and Tasleem (2010), quality of education is determined largely by the learning environment in the school. This includes buildings and facilities in a good location, to allow for personal and social development of learners. Parents, therefore, prefer schools that provide safety, convenience and desirability (Yaacob, Osman & Bachok, 2014). In both Malaysia and Pakistan, most parents prefer private schools due to good educational facilities and a conducive learning environment (Rehman, et al., 2010; Yaacob et al., 2014).

Academic performance often determines a school’s attractiveness to parents. Parents prefer a school where their children are likely to achieve high academic results. For parents who choose private schools and the general public, there is a perception that high academic standards make some schools academically superior (Fung & Lam, 2011). Parents are therefore, likely to choose a school based on its academic performance (Yaacob etal., 2014). According to Yaacob, etal (2014), parents in Malaysia prefer schools with high academic performance to ensure their children’s future education. Rehma etal. (2010) found that in Pakistan, parents prefer private school due to good examination results. They also believe that small class sizes in private schools promote overall development and self- confidence of children and avoid government schools due to overcrowding.

A  low  pupil-teacher  ratio  allows  for  individualised  attention, closer interactions  between teachers  and learners,  and  reduced interruptions. Ferns, Friendly and Prabhu (2009) found that “staff-child ratio is the most significant determinant of quality” (p.8). According to Nyokabi (2009), high pupil-teacher ratios imply poor quality and are likely to lower the expected gain. In their search for suitable schools, parents often choose a school within convenient location. Proximity usually has a threshold function, whereby there is a limit on the time that parents are willing to allow their children to travel (Beamish & Morey, 2013). Although, some parents do not choose the nearest school due to a perception of poor quality education in the school (Yaacob, et al., 2014), it is important to ensure a reachable distance between home and school.

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A study in the United Kingdom by Bradley and Mandres (2000) in Maangi (2014), showed that an increaseby10 percent in a school’s examination score resulted in an increase in enrolments by seven percent. According to Goldring and Rowley (2006), parental choice of school in the United States of America (USA) is based on the schools’ academic performance and emphasis. The likelihood of choosing a private elementary school is increased by lower test scores in public schools. In California, USA, Goldring and Rowley (2006) found that most schools do not provide transportation to and from school. Parents, therefore, rank location as an important factor when choosing a school.

Parents in Nigeria prefer private schools which have better infrastructure compared to government schools that are characterized by insufficient classrooms and overcrowding (Onuka & Arowojolu, 2008; Adebayo, 2009; Tooley & Yngstrom, 2014). Private schools are rated by parents higher than government schools in terms of academic performance (Onuka & Arowojolu, 2008; Adebayo, 2009). While a majority of parents who either chose government or low-cost private schools consider proximity to home as the most important factor, parents of children in high cost private schools place greater importance on academic achievement (Tooley & Yngstrom, 2014). This implies that some parents will choose high academic performance regardless of cost.

Parents actively choose the schools in which to enroll their children. They base their choices on varied preferences and criteria. They rationally and logically consider a combination of several factors and make school choices informed by more than a single factor. However, the factors vary among different parents.

Statement of the Problem

Excellence and quality assurance in education is of great concern to any responsible society, governments and parents. Parents enroll their wards in private secondary schools for their wards to have qualitative and functional education that will help the children to fit in to this competitive and dynamic society. It seems that private secondary schools are fulfilling these expectations of parents. But private secondary are entirely privately run without any financial assistance from the government. This implies that any one opting for private secondary schools must pay for this service. But an overwhelming percentage of our population lives below the poverty line (NEEDS 2006) and cannot pay for education in private secondary schools. Public secondary schools on the other hand are open to all both rich and poor. Society and government cannot afford to toy with quality and excellence in public secondary schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors influencing parental perception on their preference for private secondary schools. This would help to understand the areas that private secondary schools are doing better and government could emphasis that areas for public secondary schools to improve upon.

Objectives of the Study

The objective of the study is to investigate the factors that influence parents’ choice of public schools and private schools in Nigeria. However, the specific objectives are:

i)   To examine the factors that encourage the parents to choose private schools for their children

ii)   To understand the reasons which convince parents to avoid public school while choosing school for their children

iii)  To compare parents’ perspective concerning school choice.

Research Questions

The study was guided by the following research questions:

i)     What are the factors that encourage the parents to choose private schools for their children?

ii)    What are the reasons which convince parents to avoid public school while choosing school for their children?

iii)    How do we compare parents’ perspective concerning school choice?

Significance of the Study

The findings of the study will be useful in providing information to the Ministry of Education on what parents rank as importantwhenchoosingaschoolfortheirchildren.Itwillalsoprovideinsight on why some public schools in the country record higher enrolments than others in the same area. The Ministry of Education and policymakers may use the information to determine effective, efficient and equitable resource allocation to public schools. The findings will also be useful in providing insights into the influence of physical facilities, schools’ academic performance, pupil-teacher ratio and proximity to area of residence on the curriculum implementation process.

Scope of the Study

The study will be conducted in ten selected (five each) public and private secondary schools within Uyo, AkwaIbom State, to show the similarities and differences in choice of school in both categories of schools.

Limitations of the Study

The first limitation in this study will be the unavailability of literature specifically on parental choice of secondary school. This will be mitigated by use of related literature on parental choice at other levels of schooling. Another limitation will be that the study will only be conducted in public and private secondary schools within Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. This means that the results will not be generalizable to other levels of schooling.

Definition of Terms

Influence: refers to the ability of school related factors to have an impact on the decision making process of the parents on their preferred school.

Parental choice refers to a parent’s act of decision making to pick one option from a pool of several possibilities.

Physical facilities refer to the availability, adequacy and condition of physical infrastructure such as classrooms, libraries, computer laboratories and outdoor play areas.

School related factors refer to aspects within the school environment that influence parental choice of school.