The impact of socio–economic status on learner achievement in science education in the Mafikeng area : a comparative case study between Ramaine High School and Mmabatho High School
The purpose of this research was to shed light on the factors that explain the differential achievement in science education between learner groups from different socio-economic backgrounds, through a cross-analysis of two case study schools in the Mafikeng area. It was hoped that a broader understanding of the distinctive factors that account for the achievement gap in science between learner groups from affluent communities and their impoverished counterparts would help in informing the relevant policy makers on the best systems to put in place to address this vexing phenomenon of achievement gap. A multi-faceted instrument technique, comprising a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, class observations, profile of science department and document reviews, was employed to gather data. The research paradigm that was used to underpin this study was the "emancipatory'' type since the issue under investigation was a social one and involved under-privileged individuals as well. The analysis of data was guided by the principles of social constructivist theory which incorporated both statistical, empiricist quantitative and the .qualitative analysis. The cross- analysis of the two case study narratives compared to and contrasted factors that underly leaner achievement in the natural sciences. The findings revealed that a wide variety of factors, all of which are direct manifestations of one's socio-economic standings. have a direct bearing on one 's scholastic achievement. This manifested itself in the form of, among others, the resources available at the school one attends, the quality of education (foundation stages) one received, the attitudes of educator one has, and of course, attitudes of the learner towards his/her school work. Furthermore, learner achievement was found to be consistent with the level of parental involvement in their children's education. Since the cross-analysis of the study revealed that disparity in the allocation of resources was one of the prime culprits in the creation and maintenance of the achievement gap, between learner groups from the two distinct socio-economic societies, it was recommended that some kind of parity be brought to prevail in that regard. Also recommended was the fact that educators and learners alike, especially from disadvantaged schools, recommit themselves to their school work. In addition, parents of learners from poor backgrounds should get involved, more than ever before, in their children 's school matters, in order to register some improvement in the quality of their education. Recommended for further study is the need to establish the factors that explain a differential achievement between schools in the same socio-economic band and the correlation between heredity and achievement.
- Education