Understanding Head Teachers’ Responsibility towards Children’s Foundational Learning in Rural India: Focusing on their Perceptions, Attitudes, Barriers, and Actions
This research is embedded within a larger Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)- funded project, led by the University of Cambridge and the ASER Centre in India, with support from the Pratham Education Foundation. As a PhD project, this thesis investigates the roles and responsibilities of a sample of head teachers, from schools located in the district of Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, India. This thesis focuses on both the perceptions and attitudes of head teachers towards children’s foundational learning; as well as the barriers they face in supporting children’s achievement of foundational literacy and numeracy skills.
Using the adjusted Reasoned Action Approach (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010) as a conceptual framework, this thesis analyses the head teacher data quantitatively. Particularly, this thesis investigates the head teacher’s underlying patterns of perceptions, attitudes, and barriers toward children’s learning. Moreover, it also examines whether these patterns can predict the variations in the main intended actions identified by the head teachers to deal with poor academic performance in their schools.
Analysis of the underlying dimensions of head teachers’ perceptions, attitudes, and barriers demonstrates that there are three emerging patterns: 1) head teacher who perceives no learning problems & focuses less on children’s learning; 2) who perceives no learning problems but focuses on children’s learning; and finally, 3) who perceives learning problems & focuses on children’s learning. Results show that 45% of head teachers could be classified in the first pattern, 38% in the second pattern and only 17% within the third pattern. Moreover, the result shows that the patterns of perceptions, attitudes and barriers do not predict variations in the actions taken by head teachers. In fact, where head teachers perceive there is an issue with children’s learning in their school, and where they are willing to do something about it, there is no difference in their actions.