Home Literacy Environment and Social-Economic Status as Predictors of Initial Literacy in the first Grade in Lusaka-Zambia

  • Sylvia Mwanza-Kabaghe The University of Zambia
Keywords: Home literacy environment, Social Economic status, and Emergent Literacy


Studies have shown that Socio Economic Status (SES) and Home Literacy Environment (HLE) are associated with reading achievement. However, very few studies have shown this association with regards to emergent literacy skills in Zambia. This study examined how home literacy environment and social economic status are related to first graders’ emergent reading skills. The study also sought to identify specific pathways in which socioeconomic status and home environment mediate first graders’ emergent reading skills. To obtain the results for this study, a quasi-experimental design was used were 216 first graders from 18 different schools were assessed using the Basic Skill Assessment Tool (BASAT) at the beginning of first grade and at the end of first grade (approximately seven months after the baseline study). Home literacy environment and social economic status information was gathered using the demographic data form completed by the teachers and parents. To obtain the results, data was analysed quantitatively using descriptive, correlations and multi-level regression analysis. Results demonstrated that both home literacy environment and Social Economic status are associated with improvements in children’s emergent reading skills. Particularly, mothers’ occupation was a strong predictor of school achievement compared to father’s occupation. However, the influence of mother’s occupation was not significant for children who attended preschool, this was observed at both pre and post-test. Concurrent and longitudinal effects of social economic status were observed on reading while no longitudinal effects of home literacy environment were observed. The implication of these findings is that children who do not attend preschool but have mothers in gainful employment perform better in emergent literacy than those who have preschool exposure. This is a very important finding that stimulates debate and future research.