The Family Effect on Academic Performance in School. A Case Study of selected Schools in Kabale District

Academic Paper, 2017

29 Pages



Table Of Contents

Reasons that have caused poor academic performance in secondary schools.

The influence of family background on the students’ academic performance.

The education level of parents.
The effect of income of parents.

National Statistics

Measures to improve academic performance.

Recommendations and discusssions.




Poor academic performance in national examinations have been attributed to many factors that are mainly family based such as those that are faced with changing hard economic times which has made it not possible for them to meet their responsibilities of ensuring a healthy and literate family. The size of the family in which the child grows especially if the family does not have adequate resources will affect the child growth and development due to lack of quality feeding, lack of proper medical care, and more so a child will not be given the required attention on his/her academic work which can make him/her lose focus. The issue of homework, payment of school fees, providing security is all within the confines of the family to provide to the children. Family financial resources, which are associated with parent’s education attainment and occupation, often imply increased learning opportunities both at home and at school. In general, the socio-economic background of the family impacts negatively on the academic performance of the child.

According to Okumu et al (2008), education is a fundamental human right for economic growth and human development. Education is therefore necessary for all societies to thrive in all aspects of growth. Education is valuable because it contributes to national development through provision of appropriate resource personnel that aids in stimulating productivity as well as eliminating poverty, hunger disease and ignorance (Republic of Kenya 2005). A lot more study done by Kapunga (1992) shows that education liberates society from socio-political forces that affect and influence his personality at global level.

Mbelle and Katabalo (2003), asserts that secondary education aims at meeting global challenges in science and technology not leaving behind organization of production processes and markets. Other scholars such as Schultz (2002) emphasize that investing in education leads to faster growth for developed and new industrialized countries. This explains why most of the developing world especially the sub-Saharan Africa is heavily investing in education from primary, secondary and tertiary levels by increasing enrolment and improving the quality of education. For Uganda’s case government has encouraged education for all in primary and lower secondary levels. Research by Miller-Grandvaur and Yoder (2002) on secondary school education forms a vital part of education interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. However the main challenge of secondary school education seems to be poor academic performance that cuts across the developing world.

A lot of studies show that there is a big effect of the nature of family background on the academic performance of children in school. The family back ground plays has a big on the academic performance of children at all levels of education in the school system. It is generally accepted that the quality of family interactions has important associations with the children’s academic motivation and achievement. For instance Ryan (2000) shows that there is a significant effect of family background variables, parent support and teacher support on a child’s educational attainment. According to (Morgan et al, 2009), stresses that children from low socio economic status households and communities develop academic skills more slowly compared to their counterparts from higher socio-economic status families. The low socio economic status (economic struggling families) deprives children of what is necessary to support their growth and welfare. Initial academic skills are correlated with home environment where low literacy involvement and chronic stress negatively affect a child’s academic performance. Parents from low socio economic background are less likely to have the financial resources or time availability to provide children with academic support.

An American, Kean, (2005) suggested that more highly educated parents actively encourage their children to develop higher expectations of their own. He further pointed out that students perform better in school if their parents as well as mothers are actively involved in their education. The home environment provides environment for learning and is an element of the and the basics for students’ life that can affect academic performance. Providing opportunities to learn outside the school helps to facilitate student’s success in the school environment as reported by the University of Minnesota extension.

Globally, Hargreaves (2002), reported that in Germany students with parents who are involved in their school tend to have fewer problems, and better academic performance and are more likely to complete high school than students who are not involved in their school. Good grades require positive effects of parental involvement that have to be demonstrated at both elementary and secondary levels across several studies with the largest effect often occurring at elementary level where numeracy, literacy as well as values of human development are very essential. Atieno (2012) emphasizes that the quest for provision of quality education continues to a matter that continues to be cherished by both consumers and providers of education in Kenya and the entire developing world.

Parents’ education and family interaction pattern during childhood also might be linked more directly to the children’s developing academic success and achievements that includes among others oriented attitudes, general social learning and cognitive framework (Bandura 1996). Bandura stated that behavior is shaped in part through observational and direct learning experiences. Learning takes a course of interactive actions and reactions which implies that it is learning by copying from parents and that everything children do is by and through socialization.

It is important to note that education process and success is positively impacted by favorable home learning opportunities such as parents encouraging that their children have the right feeding, have security, and are happy and calm. They further reported that creating a positive physical and mental atmosphere in the home helps to prepare students to be ready and able to learn. A parent child relationship characterized by nurturing, acceptance and encouragement as well as parents’ responsiveness to the child needs correlates with positive academic performance. However according to the University of Minnesota extension parental overprotectiveness, authoritarianism, disapproval and punishment often have a negative relationship with students’ academic performance. The relationship family socio-economic status and the academic performance has been well established in sociological research.

Regionally, according to (2014), report by a task force on improving the performance of public secondary schools commissioned by the Kenya governor in Nairobi Evans Kidero, the transition rate from primary to secondary schools in the city was at all the time low. Only 50% of pupils complete secondary schools due to lack of school fees or insufficient facilities.

Kevin Marjori banks and Mboya (2000) used such combination of family structures to examine differences in the academic goal orientation of African students in South Africa. The findings indicated that while measures of refined family influences are related to goal orientations, there continue to be unmediated differences for students from social status background and from urban rural location in an examination of differences in the academic performance.

In East Africa the demand for secondary education has been increasing over time due to increase in enrolment of pupils in primary schools. It has resulted into overcrowding of classrooms and general lack of scholastic materials that has necessitated the involvement of parents to cater for the learning of their children.

In Uganda’s case, Nalukwago (1995), identified the influence of parents’ attitude, social economic background, cultural attitudes which affect the performance of students in Uganda. She pointed out the role of parents like catering for children’s school needs like textbooks, exercise books, uniforms and paying fees that are vital towards their children’s academic performance. In the early years parents are their children’s first teachers exploring nature, reading together, cooking together, and counting together. When young children begin formal schooling the parent’s job is to show how the school can be extended.

It is widely believed that the home has a great influence on students’ psychological, emotional, social and economic state. In the view of (Ajira et al, 2007), the state of the home affects the individual since the parents are the first socializing agents in an individual’s life. This is because the family background and the context of the child affect her reaction to life situations and his level of performance. Uwaifo (2008) asserts that parents and the individuals experience at home play a tremendous role in making the child what he or she is.

Involvement of the parents will make students achieve more, exhibit more positive attitudes and behavior and feel more comfortable in the environment. Parents being the first teachers and the caretakers of the home, the home environment shapes the child’s initial views of learning, parents’ beliefs, expectations and attitudes about education affect their children’s conception of the place of education in their values.

Reasons that have caused poor academic performance in secondary schools.

The increasing demand of secondary education has necessitated secondary schools and provision of the requirements for learning materials. The public resources are limited and governments have introduced public-private partnership where the private sector has become another key player particularly at post basic levels to meet the excess demand. Consequently provision of quality secondary education has been constrained (Wedgwood, 2006).

Emeke (2004) has attributed the causes of poor performance to the combination of personal and institutional factors. Personal factors related to individuals are family or parental influences, societal influences, institutional influences and school related, students, teachers related factors, accommodation and living conditions.

Wise man et al (2000) have examined the causes of poor academic performance among secondary school students. Some of these factors identified include intellectual ability, poor study habits, achievements, motivation, lack of vocational goals, low self-content, low social economic status of the family, poor family structures and anxiety. The consequences of this include indiscipline in schools and low levels of educational standards.

Lack of and priority attrition being paid to our schools and education of our students with disabilities in the past constituted reasons for their poor academic performance (Jimon 2000). He further said that the combination of poverty and disability in life of secondary school students has imposed serious hardships and their devastating psychological effects on students. The physical disability requires some level of resources for one to catch up with the social and economic endeavors as well as achieving the standards of academic expectations in society.

It has been estimated that lack of sufficient teachers in secondary schools which is believed to have devastating effect on academic performance of students in secondary schools. This corresponds with ( Aleke 2001) , she stated that developing a society or a nation encompasses both provision of physical infrastructures and carefully raising of manpower. Indeed it is the possibility and success wholly rests on education. For this reason, teachers have to be sufficient in order to ensure educational achievements. Having said this Aleke said that are hubs of the educational system and the success of any educational system depends on their numbers, quality and devotion.

According to Okedije (2003), the education opportunities of the children are clearly related to the socio-economic background of the parents. Children of elite have better education opportunities than the children of non-elite parents, students of elite groups since they possess the academic qualifications, consequently, it imperative that the principle inheritance for them is sound education. Many students found themselves rejected and dejected by adults just because their parents are unable to support them adequately. The school system is failing to plan curriculum to provide them with alternative schools or equip them with practical schools.

Ajila et al (2007), states that the home affects the individual since the parents are the first socialing agents. This is because the family background and the context of the child affect his or her reaction to the real life situation real life situations and his level of performance.

Reviewed literature indicates that there is awareness on the importance of home environment of family on students’ performance. The home has social and economic state. All these issues are supported by the UNESCO (1994) report which reveals concerns for quality education that has dominated the education debate from the early eighties and has remained a central issue in the twenty first century.


The influence of family background on the students’ academic performance.

Levin (2001), states that parents are probably the actors with the clearest dimensional interest in a high level of their children are in academic performance. To some extent there is simple evidence to show that marital instability brings about stress, tension, lack of motivation and frustration. Obviously these manifestations act negatively on a child’s academic performance.

Johnson (2005) asserts that children from divorced families often fail and are at a risk emotionally. However, this may not be completely applicable in all instances of broken homes. Some children irrespective of home background or structures may work hard and become successful in life. Moreover (Ayodele, 2006), stated that the environment where a child finds himself or herself goes along way in determining his learning ability and ultimately his academic performance in school.

Bliss (2004) is of the view that many students from low socio-economic homes respond incomprehensively to classroom teaching because their home environment has not exposed them to the kinds of materials used in school. If home environment is not intellectually stimulating some students find it difficult to cope up in school and may eventually drop out of school. Furthermore the home has been identified as an overwhelming factor affecting students’ performance academically. It would appear then, that broken homes may present a very real danger to the emotional, personality and mental adjustment of students. These impinge on students’ academic performance.

According to Fraser, (2001), psychological home conditions arise mainly from illitimacy of children, the label of adopted child, broken home divorce and parental deprivation. Such abnormal conditions of the home are likely to have a detrimental effect on the school performance of the child. He asserts that life in single parent family or broken homes can be stressful for both the child and the parent. Such families are faced with challenges of inadequate financial resources.

Schultz ( 2006) noticed that if adolescents from unstable homes are to be compared with those from stable homes it would be seen that those from unstable homes have more social academic and emotional problems. (Roehikepartain et al, 2003), are of the opinion that the family and its structure play a great role in children’s academic performance.

Omolewa (2002) affirmed that academic performance of the child could be traced to the home he comes from. Synder et al (2000) claimed that the family environment is the most powerful influence in determining the child’s academic performance. It is obvious that substantial influence on a child’s academic performance.

According to Abiriri (2010), education is seen as an instrument per excellence for development and as such it is the engine that promotes development. Aside from the intellectual capacity of the child, the academic performance of the child is also largely determined by the family background. Obeyan (2003) states that the family is the bedrock of any society. It is also the foundation of academic achievements of the child. (Uwifo 2008), further affirmed that the recent wave of moral decedance and all sorts of anti-social behavior could be traced to poor home background.

Petit (2008), pointed out that psychological needs are a potential source of individuals personality and academic performance achievement. He claimed that academic success is achieved only if family background sources can be assessed to maximize the association between family influence and outcomes. It is believed that families with high social economic status often have more success in preparing their children for school because they always have access to wide range of resources at their disposal to promote, uplift and support their children. According to Ardedi (2001), Eunice (2004), it becomes imperative that a study on the relationship between family background and students’ academic performance should be investigated, in view of the fact that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow their academic and emotional well-being if given appropriate attention will go a long way in ensuring that their potentials are harnessed and put into use for national development.

Research indicates that psychological needs are potential source of individual’s personality and academic performance achievements. He claimed that academic success is achieved only if family background resources can be assessed to maximize the association between family influence that children from low socio-economic status households and communities develop academic skills more slowly compared to children from higher socio-economic status groups. (Morgan et al, 2009), suggested that initial academic skills are correlated with the home environment. This is because low literacy environments and chronic stress negatively affect a child’s pre-academic skills. The school systems in low socio-economic status communities are often under resourced negatively affecting students’ academic progress.

Harighurst (2002) pointed out that inadequate education and increased dropout rates affect children’s academic achievements, perpetuating the low economic status of the family. According to him, parents from low socio-economic status communities may be unable to afford resources such as books, computers and school fees for their children. Similarly, (Coleman, 2009) states that parent’s involvement in learning activities has substantial emotional and intellectual benefits for children. He observed that because supportive and strong families are significant for school success, teachers confront increasing challenges as many children experience severe family disruption and upheaval.

According to Ogulu (2004), the high socio-economic status parents are able to provide their children with books and toys to encourage them in their various learning activities at home. Parents face major challenges when it comes to providing optimal care and education for their children. However, the challenges are more accurately devastating among the poor income families that struggle to provide the basic needs to sustain the family.

Families with low economic status often lack financial, social and educational support that characterized families with high socio-economic status due to their poverty levels. These groups of families may have adequate or limited access to community resources that can promote and support children’s development and school readiness.

Dubey (2011), believes that in terms of material circumstances or environmental, parents of the relatively high class are able to supply their children with more opportunities to learn those things which will aid their learning in school. In addition, they have more appropriate knowledge about academic needs of their children thus the children coming from well to do homes will have an advantage in learning due to prior and continuous experience resulting from the opportunities provided in their privileged circumstances.

Bernistuern (2008), stated that high income enables parents to give their children the advantages of that money can buy. A high income parents provide their children with household equipment like educative video, text books, good schools which can equip them in academic performance. According to (Jenks, 2008), many students from low income homes are kept away or sent out from schools or excluded from certain activities or lack of money to provide the prescribed equipment or materials. They suffer from stigma of being isolated during break, meals because of poverty.

Becker (2005), explained the empirical regularity that families with higher income have fewer children. He said that as income raises individuals may choose to increase the average quality and reduce quantity while correlation between income and family size is clear. There is a little further evidence that speaks to this theory. Having a larger family has a causal effect, families who choose to have more children are inherently different and children would have done worse regardless of family size.

Wolpin (2006), used the exogenous variation in family background to determine the causal relationship between family background and the child’s academic performance. Although the school is responsible for the experiences that make up the child’s life during school periods, parents and the individual experiences at home play a tremendous role in building the personality of the child and make the child what he is, thus (Ichado, 2008), concluded that the environment in which children come from can greatly influence his or her performance at school.

The family lays the psychological moral and spiritual foundations of the child while the mother’s significant roles cannot be over emphasized. Studies on a further child-relationship suggest that the presence of a father at home influence significantly the development of a child.

Conkline (2006), states that structurally, a family is either broken or intact. A broken family in this context is one that is not structurally intact for various reasons, death of a parent, divorce, separation, desertion and illegitimacy. In this case a family was never completed and this analysis becomes more necessary because life in a single parent family can be stressful for both the child and the parent, such families are faced with the challenges of diminished financial resources (Children’s defense fund 2004).

Birtch et al (2006), analyses that the relationship between parental involvement and students’ academic achievement is stronger when academic achievement is represented by a more global indicator of academic achievement rather than by academic subject indicators.

Family background tends to a negative association with the academic success whereas parental engagement like volunteering in most cases should be positive correlations. Similarly, the relations between families and academic achievement also need to consider children’s family structure. A mother does homework with her children and it is generally acknowledged that family environment is the most powerful influence in determining the child’s academic motivation and achievement.

The social position of any family determines the ability of the parents to cater for their children in many areas of life that includes food, shelter and clothing as well as education requirements. Simon (2005) stated that, the social position of a child’s family, his or her father’s occupation, the books available to him or her at home, the size of the family are constantly related to his final achievement. He further said that teaching approaches, class size, teachers experience and qualifications, methods, use of radio and televisions did not constantly and unambiguously the final outcome of the child.


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The Family Effect on Academic Performance in School. A Case Study of selected Schools in Kabale District
( Atlantic International University )  (Education Foundations)
Education Management
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Publication, academic performance, Family, school, students, academic ahievement
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Anonymous, 2017, The Family Effect on Academic Performance in School. A Case Study of selected Schools in Kabale District, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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