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Family, school and neighbourhood influences on the educational attainment of youth : Güzelyaka case study

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2008
Kaya, Gökhan
The aim of the master thesis is to understand how neighborhood, family and school influence on the educational attainment of young people. Within the scope of this work, I conducted thirty two in-depth interviews with youth living in the Güzelyaka gecekondu (squatter) neighborhood in Ankara. Gecekondu neighborhoods are residential areas where rural migrants might initially or permanently move when they come to the city in order to improve their life standards. However, many of them have to survive here against conditions such as poverty and the insufficiency of social services during the early years of their migration. Nevertheless, families can develop survival strategies based on self-help networks like kinship and hemşehri (people with same geographic origins) connections. Throughout this master thesis, I discuss how young people’s interactions within the disadvantaged neighborhoods, school climate around the neighborhood, family background, conditions at home and parental involvement influence the educational attainment of youth The research revealed that despite the specific conditions of gecekondu neighborhoods and heterogeneity amongst working class families, there is little variation in educational attainment of the youth. The main reason for this low level of educational attainment is the poverty they experienced or are still experiencing at home. While such poverty may compel them to take up positions in the labor market participation early in life, the influence of peer groups also discourages school attendance, as the environment is one in which schools provide neither a good quality education, nor a competitive educational environment. Furthermore, poverty, the disadvantaged nature of the neighborhood and the strength of the family network among the residents all serve to reproduce the inferior value of iv education in their life. On the other hand, family practices regarding education vary with the transformation towards a nuclear family life, improvement in household income and with increasing length of stay. Early migrant families who have better life standards are more likely to encourage their children to stay in school in order to find regular income jobs than are newcomer families who need a supplement to the family budget since they are exposed to the worst conditions in the neighborhood. The younger parents among early migrant families are more involved in their children’s schooling, and provide personal space for their children, enabling them to adequately complete school work.