Educators' knowledge of and attitudes toward fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Scheepers, Patricia (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2009-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which is the most common cause of mental and learning disabilities in the world, is totally preventable. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not a genetic or inherited condition; however, it is permanent and reduces human potential. There is no cure or treatment. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder does not distinguish between race, class or culture and can affect children from all socio-economic groups. It is however more prevalent amongst poor, uneducated, uninformed and marginalised (minority groups) or aboriginal communities due to a variety of historical, sociopolitical and economic reasons. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder has become a public health problem in South Africa in provinces like the Western and Northern Cape (winegrowing areas), where substantial research has been conducted and where alcohol abuse can be traced back to the ‘dop’ system. The highest documented prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the world has been identified in these provinces amongst a marginalised group of people classified in South Africa as ‘coloured’. A substantial amount of research has been conducted on the characteristics, manifestation and prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in South Africa, but no research has yet been done to ascertain educators’ knowledge of and attitude to learners with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. In view of the high prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in South Africa, and the possibility that many of the learners with learning and behavioural problems in our schools could be victims of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (also known as a ‘hidden disability’) I concentrated my research on schools situated in low socio-economic areas on the Cape Flats where poverty and unemployment are high and shebeens are plentiful. Through this research I firstly wished to establish how much knowledge educators have of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and what their attitudes are toward learners manifesting the disorder. Secondly, my aim was to ascertain to what extent educators are able to support and identify these learners. Qualitative research methods and an interpretive constructivist paradigm were used to conduct the study. Data was primarily collected through the use of interviews, focus group discussions, observations and a research journal. Nine participants, from three different low socio-economic schools (one from each educational phase) on the Cape Flats, were involved. Themes that emerged from the data were analysed and recorded through the constant comparative method. They are discussed together with the research findings. This study revealed important issues pertaining to educators’ knowledge of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and whether they are able to assist learners presenting with this disorder in mainstream education in South Africa. A number of recommendations are made for further research in this field.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom, wat as die algemeenste oorsaak van verstandelike en leergestremdhede in die wêreld beskou word, is ʼn sindroom wat voorkom kan word. Die sindroom is nie geneties of oorerflik nie, maar die skade is permanent omdat daar geen behandeling en teenmiddel is nie. Dit het gevolglik ʼn negatiewe impak op menslike vermoëns. Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom kan kinders van alle sosioekonomiese groepe affekteer en alhoewel dit nie kultuur-, ras- of klasgebonde is nie, is dit oorwegend ʼn algemene verskynsel onder groepe met ʼn lae opvoedingspeil, diegene wat oningelig en gemarginaliseer is (minderheidsgroepe) of dié wat as inboorlinggemeenskappe bekend staan, wat toegeskryf kan word aan verskeie historiese, sosio-politieke en ekonomiese redes. Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom is tans ʼn openbare gesondheidsprobleem in Suid-Afrika, veral in die wynstreke van die Wes- en Noord-Kaap. Omvattende navorsing is al in genoemde provinsies gedoen waar alkoholmisbruik ʼn lang aanloop het en verbind word met die dopstelsel. Die Wes-Kaap en Noord-Kaap is alombekend as provinsies met die hoogste voorkomsyfer van Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom FASD in die wêreld, veral onder ʼn gemarginaliseerde groep mense wat as die kleurlinge’ bekend staan. Alhoewel omvattende navorsing oor die karaktereienskappe, manifestasies en voorkoms van Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom in Suid-Afrika reeds gedoen is, kon geen navorsing gevind word wat die kennis van opvoeders en hul en houdings jeens leerders met Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom probeer vasstel nie. As die hoë voorkoms van Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom in ag geneem word, asook die moontlikheid dat baie leerders in ons skole leer- en gedragsprobleme manifesteer, kan daar waarskynlik slagoffers van Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom wees en wie se gestremdhede dus ‘onsigbaar’ is. My navorsing fokus daarom hoofsaaklik op skole in die lae sosio-ekonomiese areas van die Kaapse Vlakte, waar armoede en werkloosheid hoogty vier en waar daar ʼn hoë voorkoms van onwettige drankwinkels (‘sjebiens’) is. My primêre doel met hierdie navorsing was om die kennis van onderwysers oor Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom te bepaal en om die houding van opvoeders jeens leerders wat met kenmerke van hierdie sindroom vas te stel. Ek wou ook vasstel tot welke mate opvoeders bevoeg om is leerders met Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom te identifiseer en te ondersteun. Kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodes en ʼn interpretatiewe konstruktivistiese paradigma is in die studie gebruik. Data is primêr ingesamel met behulp van onderhoude, fokusgroep-besprekings, observasies en ʼn navorsingsjoernaal. Nege deelnemers verbonde aan drie verskillende skole met lae sosio-ekonomiese vlakke (een opvoeder van elke opvoedingsfase), op die Kaapse Vlakte was by die studie betrokke. Temas wat blootgelê is deur die data is ontleed en by wyse van die konstante vergelykende metode opgeneem. Hulle word saam met die navorsingsbevindings bespreek. Die navorsing toon belangrike aspekte van opvoeders se kennis van Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom. Dit bevraagteken ook of hoofstroom-opvoeders in staat is om leerders met Fetale Alkohol Spektrumsindroom te ondersteun. Voortspruitend uit die bevindings word aanbevelings gemaak vir verdere ondersoeke op hierdie gebied.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/2079
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