Coping strategies used by disadvantaged families to enhance pupils’ academic performance in Tanzania

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University of Dar es Slaam
This study sought to investigate the coping strategies used by disadvantaged families to enhance pupils’ academic performance. Specifically, the study was aimed at firstly, exploring the coping strategies used by families with poor financial capital to enhance pupils’ academic performance; secondly, examining the coping strategies used by illiterate parents to enhance pupils’ primary schooling; finally, suggesting ways that could be used by other disadvantaged families to enhance pupils’ academic performance. The study employed a qualitative approach. The area of study was Ndalambo Division in Mbeya Region. The sample was composed of 29 respondents (12 pupils, 12 parents, two heads of school, two class teachers and one Ward Education Coordinator). The study employed purposive and snowball sampling techniques. Data were collected through interviews, observations and documentary review. The data collected through interviews were analysed by using descriptive display matrix, with some direct quotations from the respondents integrated in the narrative report. Furthermore, the data obtained through observation and documentary review were subjected to content analysis. The pictures were analysed using visual content analysis. The major findings of the study showed that disadvantaged families cope through five ways. These were identified as NGOs support; parental engagement in small activities such as petty trade, daily casual work, house maid and shamba works; schools support; support from teachers, peers, literate relatives and neighbours; and pupils’ self control. These findings demonstrated that coping strategies are crucial in enhancing pupil’s school attendance and academic performance. Based on these findings, the study recommends that NGOs should conduct a needs assessment so as to provide support according to pupils’ needs. Also, the government should provide entrepreneurial skills to petty traders, introduce adult classes for illiterate parents, provide credit and soft loan to poor families, encourage the use of family planning among illiterate parents and locate specific areas for petty traders. Moreover, schools need to provide food to pupils. Parents on their part, should be encouraged to motivate their children when they perform well in their subjects. On the whole, the study concluded that disadvantaged families use various coping strategies which enable children to successfully attend school and perform well, hence the need to render all the necessary support to sustain these efforts.
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Academic achievement, School children, Primary schools, Poverty, Tanzania
Chetenge, S.(2011) Coping strategies used by disadvantaged families to enhance pupils’ academic performance in Tanzania. Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at