Influence of home based factors on the academic performance of girl learners from poverty stricken families: A case of Zimbabwe
Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
Great Zimbabwe University, Department of Educational Foundations, Zimbabwe; Department of Psychology of Education, University of South Africa (UNISA), College of Education, South Africa
This article examines the home based factors that influence the academic performance of the girl child from poverty stricken households in Masvingo province, Zimbabwe. With the prevailing economic hardships faced by the majority of the people in Zimbabwe since 1990, the number of girl children living in poverty is continually increasing and it has become a growing issue. A qualitative phenomenological design was used incorporating focus group discussions, interviews and observations as data collection instruments with ten girl children, six parents and four teachers at two secondary schools, one rural and another urban in Masvingo province. The participants comprised girl students doing form three, their parents and also some of their teachers. The study is informed by Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory. This study established that the girl child's academic performance is affected by multiple contexts including family, home, neighbourhood and school. The study concluded that family income, parental level of education, gender, home circumstances, and family size influenced academic achievement of girls in secondary schools. The home circumstances of girls from poor backgrounds were observed to be not conducive to learning because of a lack of lighting, spending much time on domestic chores, having no desk or table to work at, or not having books at home. The girl learners also did not get basic needs met like food, sanitary pads and school fees. Recommendations are that the government should sensitize parents on the need and importance of supporting the education of girls and on the importance of providing for the needs of the girl child. Finally, every effort must be made to ensure that the affected children have stable, preferably home/family based care and adequate social support. Various policies and interventions can help to attenuate poverty's negative influence on child development.