Reading and writing ability in relation to home environment: A study in primary education in rural Tanzania

  • Ngorosho D
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The study examines how the home environment relates to the reading and
writing ability of Kiswahili speaking children from a rural area in
eastern Tanzania. Three hundred grade three children were assessed on
letter, word, and sentence reading, and word writing abilities.
Mothers/female guardians responded to a questionnaire-based interview
about the home environment. The results show that performance in reading
and writing measures was at a level slightly above 50% of the maximum
score. Dispersion between the scores was large. There was no significant
gender difference in performance, although the boys performed slightly
higher than the girls. Correlation analysis showed moderate to high
relationship between reading and writing measures and home environment
variables. Multiple regression analysis procedure identified four
predictors of a summary score of reading and writing ability. These are
fathers' education, the quality of house wall material, number of books
for school subjects found in the home, and parental involvement in the
child's school learning. The home environment variables accounted for a
rather large variance (31%) in reading and writing ability. Fathers'
education accounted for 16% of the variance and the other variables
added 15% of the variance. A specific analysis revealed significant
effect of father's education, construction material for the house walls
and books, but not of parental involvement, on separate reading measures
(letter, word and sentence reading). Conversely, in terms of children's
ability to write, parental involvement was the only significant
predictor. Possible explanations are discussed. The identified variables
confirmed the significant role the home environment plays in children's
ability to read and write. The variables are important to consider for
research as well as for government and policy decisions when planning to
improve the home environment as well as children's school learning and
the development of literacy skills at least in contexts which have
similarities with this study.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ecological theory
  • Home environment
  • Kiswahili
  • Reading and writing ability
  • Tanzania

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  • Damaris Ngorosho

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