One of the seminal changes that occurred with the advent of a democratic government was the change in the South African education system. These government driven interventions have arguably been about ensuring that all learners have equal opportunities to “quality” education. Parental decision with regard to the choice of a primary school for their Grade 1 learner in the public school system in South Africa, had become more complex than twenty five years ago. Initially this had been a very straightforward decision for many parents who chose to send their children to the nearest public school. Today, parents have more choices of a public school for their children. Given this opportunity, parents are beginning to exercise this choice to ensure that their children receive quality education. In this study, I examined the experiences of parents’ choice of schools focusing on the factors affecting their choices. I also investigated how parents could be supported in finding the most appropriate school for their children.
The purpose of this research therefore was to contribute to the discourse on factors influencing parental choice of schools for their Grade 1 learners, and thus contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of Early Childhood Education. To this end, the study’s primary research question is:
· What are the factors that affecting parents’ choice of a school for their Grade 1 learner?
The sub-questions for this research study are:
· What information do parents need when making choices for their Grade 1 learner?
· How do parents perceive school related factors to impact on their choice?
· How will the findings of this study contribute to education policy in relation to curriculum and school access?
The preliminary findings were that there are various factors that affect parents’ choice of school for their children, for example interpretation of national policy, the curriculum of the school, language, safety and discipline. There is a general lack of access to information of the school apart from minimum website text which is used as an advertisement by the school. Although the factors articulated were based on individual needs, there seems to be a correlation on these needs, yet it does not align to any transformation agenda in South Africa.