This report documents the main findings from Stage 1 (out of 4) of the “Voice of the Poor” research project, whose aim is to provide a bridge between the bottom 40% of with policymakers and other key stakeholders in education policy. As can be expected, poor families have high aspirations for their children, and social mobility is a vision shared by all.Among the major challenges faced by poor families are (1)additional fees charged by schools exacerbate their financial constraints, (2) peer group pressure, (3) parents are ill-equipped to help their children with school work, (4) discriminatory school environment, (5) bad or under performing teachers, and(6) language barrier in vernacular schools. Poor parents see themselves as being trapped in a weak government school system. Since they cannot afford private schools, they rely on private tuitions to cover the shortcomings of government schools.
Poor parents from different ethnic backgrounds show different attitudes towards the vocational system. They also worry about the ethnic segregation that their children have to endure.