| || || Chandra, Sanjeena Devi.|
| || || An exploratory study : student dropouts and related issues in a Fiji secondary school |
Author:Chandra, Sanjeena Devi.
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Call No.: Pac LC 146 .8 .F5 C53 2009
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission
Abstract: While the issue of the student dropouts has often been raised, the factors, effects, and possible solutions have not been adequately addressed in empirical research in Fiji. This study was conducted using the three lines of inquiry: (i) Factors causing student dropout rates, (ii) Subsequent effects of student dropouts, and (iii) Strategies to help retain the students in secondary school. A rural secondary school was used as a case study to carry out the research using the mixed methods approach. It attempted to identify the student dropout issues from the perspectives of the stakeholders of a rural secondary school. The research respondents who participated in the study included the school principal, teachers, students, parents and the students who dropped out of the school. The theoretical framework for this study was derived from the local and international literature related to student dropouts and school completion issues. Six research questions were formulated to guide the study. Quantitative data were collected using the survey questionnaire of 116 participants (students and teachers), while the qualitative data were collected using the in-depth interviews of 12 participants (4 teachers, 4 student dropouts, 4 parents). Quantitative data were analysed using the SPSS Statistical Software (Version 16) and qualitative data were analysed using the thematic and content analysis using the SPSS text analysis (Version 2.1). In relation to the factors that cause student dropouts, the results emphasise four important contributing factors: family support, poverty, external examinations, and lack of motivation. Triangulation of qualitative and quantitative results enabled the factors to be categorised under three broad sub-headings: (i) Socio-economic factors (family finance, parental support, self-perception), (ii) School and educational policies (academic achievements, school curriculum, school policies and teacher attitudes), and (iii) Geographical location and related challenges. The results indicated that for social factors, the home environment, poor parental support, family problems, and single parents were associated with student dropout. A strong association was evident between the home environment and family problems and poor parental support. It was also apparent that high academic demands and the exam oriented education system, as a whole, simultaneously made a negative contribution to students’ academic progress, especially those in rural and remote areas. The second theme on subsequent effects of student dropouts identified a number of significant issues. Important amongst them were: (i) Social effects (e.g., crime, drug abuse), (ii) Economical effects (unemployment and poverty), and (iii) Psychological effects. The last theme on possible strategies to help retain students in a rural secondary school indicated a number of important issues: (i) Financial and moral support, (ii) Policy measures, and (iii) Vocational education. Finally, while this study is confined to a selected Case Study School in a rural location, it is recommended that extensive research on student dropouts and related issues are investigated in a wider scale throughout Fiji. This study provides a foundation for further investigation of issues related to the student dropouts and particularly to fill the existing vacuum in the local literature on student dropouts. It will also provide the relevant authorities with empirical evidence so that appropriate measures are put in place to address student dropout issues.