School support networks in Burkina Faso as characterized by cultural values and changing family systems
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The aim of this study was to examine the influences of interdependent-oriented cultural values, e.g. group harmony and relational hierarchy, and societal changes on the size, composition, provision and content of support within Burkinabe children’s primary school support networks. An ego-network survey and semi-structured interview were administered from twenty Burkinabe children who were enrolled in a sponsorship program of a local development organization (CREDO). The results with this mixed-method approach showed how school support networks of Burkinabe children are largely embedded within their socio-cultural context. Interdependent-oriented values as family harmony and respect to elderly were found to prevent children from seeking support from network members higher on authority. Peers were found to be important all-round support providers although girls had less peers within their networks than boys due to their greater work responsibilities outside school. Cultural values influencing school support networks were subject to societal changes like urbanization. Whereas family arrangements in rural areas corresponded to the extended family, in urban areas evidence was found for the presence of the modified extended family. Although continuing ties with extended kin, rural children had more kin within their networks than urban children. Recommendations for future policy on school support are presented.