Emerging Patterns in Students-Parents Interaction Interfaces and Platforms’ Use in Kenyan Secondary Boarding Schools
Abila, James Onyango
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In Kenya, the Ministry of Education banned the use of mobile phones by students while they are in boarding schools without replacing it with a suitable interaction interface. This situation infringes on children’s right to information, as delineated in the child right commission (CRC) which include the right to be heard and to be taken seriously, to free speech and information, and to maintain privacy. There is need for a suitable replacement to letter writing, and direct mobile phones use in secondary boarding schools. This study surveyed student-parent interaction needs so as to come up with computer-based interaction requirements that would enable the development of automated suitable interaction platform between the parents and the students. The study objective was to examine existing students-parents interaction methods and platforms used in secondary boarding schools in Rachuonyo South Sub-County, in Kenya. Specifically, the study investigated time periods of interaction, whom they interacted with and problems prompting the interactions. Stratified random sampling was used in which sample size of 330 students, 178 parents and 8 teaching staff were investigated. The data collected were descriptively and inferentially analyzed using SPSS and MS-excel applications. The study findings showed that a bigger percentage of the students use mobile phone platform to interact with their parents despite the ministry’s ban. 95.5% of students use mobile platforms to interact with their parents, less than 5% use letters or electronic mail. Most of the students (98.6%) got mobile phones from their teachers, 0.93% from the support staff and 0.47% from their fellow students. Almost half of the students (49%) interact termly with their parents a clear indication that there is need for students –parent interaction interface while they are in boarding schools. Parents and students (80%) concurred that the best time for student parent interaction in schools is 4:10 pm – 6:00 pm. Majority of the students (80%) had interacted with strangers. On the frequency of problems that prompt students to do mobile phone-based interaction, 98.6% of the students mentioned school fee, course books 89.7%, revision books, 80.8%. It also noted that 74.1% of students called their parents to inform them about their performance, 50% over exercise books for doing extra work, 48.2% on health issue, stress (47.8%), Career choice Students (43.3%), exam performance 22.8%, food related problems (19.2%) and 10% complained about special meals. Few students, 6.25% mentioned bullying. Generally, most students interacted because of financial problems (74.1%) followed closely by academic (71.1%) and lastly (33.2%) social problem. This study recommends the need for design of an interface in which each student had an account and logged in using log in credentials and priority in the interface design be given to financial problems and academic issues. The ministry of education and the school head teachers need to allocate funds for provision of a special room for computer to be installed with interaction interface to enable each student get an opportunity to interact with their parent between 4 pm to 6 pm, the teacher on duty be charged with additional responsibility of guarding and supervising student-parent interaction process.
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