Exploring the dropout phenomenon in a secondary school situated in a high-risk community

Inglis, Diana (2009)

Thesis (MEdPsych (Educational Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to gain a contextual understanding of the dropout phenomenon in a specific school in a high-risk community. An applied, interpretive, qualitative research design was used. This involved an investigation of the subjective experiences of learners at risk of dropping out of school during the post-compulsory phase of their education at a specific school. Informants were purposively selected according to specific criteria. Data were collected through eight semi-structured interviews with learners at risk of dropping out of school; a semi-structured interview with a member of the community; a focus-group interview and collages. The data was transcribed and analysed using a qualitative thematic analysis, and compared to previous research gleaned from an extensive literature review. Results that emerged from this study indicated that the participants experienced several barriers to learning embedded in the interconnected systems, which could cause them to drop out of school. This included issues such as single-parent families, family conflict, lack of parental support, emotional difficulties due to home circumstances, substance abuse and socio-economic issues. Although results showed that the school of study had seemingly adopted an inclusive policy and had made some adaptations to accommodate learners, it became evident that the existing support structures within the school and the community were experienced as insufficient. Due to the nature of unsupportive and conflicting family systems reported by some learners, teachers are expected to perform additional nurturing roles that add pressure to an already overburdened educational system. The practical implications of the results are that, in order to support adolescents in a high-risk environment and to prevent them from dropping out of school, the focus should be on protective factors. This could be achieved through, for example, early identification and targeting of learners at risk of dropping out of school, the implementation of strategies aimed to increase engagement of all learners in the school, the implementation of an ongoing supportive drug-free programme in the school and the community in conjunction with supportive organisations, professional development workshops and in-service training for teachers, altered school schedules, and career guidance and work internships for interested learners that could be arranged in union with the local university. The results from this study therefore highlighted areas that could receive attention in the specific school to address the problem for learners at risk of dropping out of school. Further qualitative research is recommended to investigate this phenomenon in a broader spectrum of South African learners.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie studie was om ’n kontekstuele begrip te kry van die uitsak-verskynsel in ’n spesifieke skool wat in ’n hoërisiko-gemeenskap geleë is. ’n Toegepaste, vertolkende, kwalitatiewe navorsingsmodel is gebruik. Die gevolg was ’n ondersoek van die subjektiewe ondervindinge van leerders wat die risiko geloop het om op skoolvlak uit te sak gedurende die naverpligte fase van hulle opvoeding aan ’n spesifieke skool. Informante is doelbewus volgens spesifieke kriteria gekies. Data is versamel deur middel van agt semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met leerders wat ’n risiko geloop het om op skoolvlak uit te sak; ’n semi-gestruktureerde onderhoud met ’n lid van die gemeenskap; ’n fokusgroeponderhoud en plakskilderye. Die data is getranskribeer en geanaliseer deur gebruik te maak van ’n kwalitatiewe tematiese analise en is vergelyk met vorige navorsing wat versamel is uit ’n uitgebreide literatuuroorsig. Resultate wat uit hierdie studie geblyk het, het daarop gedui dat die deelnemers verskeie leerhindernisse ondervind het wat veranker is in die onderling-verbonde stelsels wat kon veroorsaak het dat hulle op skoolvlak uitsak. Hierby was ingesluit kwessies soos enkelouer-gesinne, gesinskonflik, ’n gebrek aan ouerlike ondersteuning, emosionele probleme as gevolg van huislike omstandighede, dwelmmisbruik en sosio-ekonomiese kwessies. Alhoewel resultate gewys het dat die studieskool skynbaar ’n inklusiewe beleid volg en ’n paar aanpassings gemaak het om leerders te akkommodeer, het dit duidelik geword dat die bestaande ondersteuning-strukture binne die skool en gemeenskap as onvoldoende ervaar is. As gevolg van die aard van nie-ondersteunende en teenstrydige gesinstelsels soos meegedeel deur sommige leerders, word daar van onderwysers verwag om bykomende opvoedingsrolle te vervul wat spanning veroorsaak in ’n reeds oorlaaide opvoedingstelsel. Die praktiese implikasies van die resultate is, dat die fokus op beskermende faktore moet wees, om adolessente in ’n hoërisiko-omgewing te ondersteun en te verhoed dat hulle op skoolvlak uitsak. Dit sou bereik kon word deur byvoorbeeld, vroeë identifisering en teikengroepvorming van leerders wat die risiko loop om op skoolvlak uit te sak, die implementering van strategieë wat daarop gemik is om die betrokkenheid van alle leerders in die skool te verhoog, die implementering van ’n deurlopende ondersteunende dwelmvrye program in die skool en gemeenskap in samewerking met ondersteuningsorganisasies, professionele-ontwikkelingswerkswinkels en indiensopleiding vir onderwysers, veranderde skoolskedules en beroepsvoorligting en werk-internskappe vir belangstellende leerders wat gereël kan word in samewerking met die plaaslike universiteit. Die resultate van hierdie studie het areas in die spesifieke skool uitgewys wat kan aandag kry om die probleem van leerders wat die risiko loop om op skoolvlak uit te sak, aan te spreek. Dit word aanbeveel dat verdere kwalitatiewe navorsing gedoen word om hierdie verskynsel in ’n breër spektrum van Suid-Afrikaanse leerders te ondersoek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/3013
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