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Engaging Knowledge and Strategies: Rural Parental Involvement in Gansu, China

Global Education Colloquium

March 17, 2015
Peggy Kong, Ph.D., Lehigh University

Parental involvement in their children’s schooling has been identified as critical to a child’s academic future.  Researchers have identified specific at-home and in-school activities for parents to support their children’s schooling, but at the same time note parental involvement is highly influenced by socio-economic status. Wealthier and more educated parents relate to school personnel and their children differently, and often perceived as more effectively, than parents who are poor or are less educated. While most of this research has been conducted inside the US, it nevertheless shapes educational policy-making and school-community relations around the world. This study uses ethnographic data collected in rural Gansu, China, to challenge the assumption that poor parents are backwards, unable to support their children’s schooling, and pose as a barrier to their children’s educational success. Findings from this study indicate that parents are motivated, knowledgeable and strategic about their involvement in their children’s academic lives. They desire social mobility for their children and take action towards this goal.  Findings provide important lessons for teachers, school administrators and education policy-makers in China and around the world.   

About the Speaker

Peggy A. Kong is an Assistant Professor of Comparative and International Education at Lehigh University.  Her research focuses on issues of poverty and equity in education in the East Asian context.  She combines in-depth ethnographic work with survey data to delve into the relationships between poverty, school-family connections, and gender in rural China.