Youths’ predispositions to learning : case studies within a place of safety (Western Cape, South Africa)

De Waal, Hester Jacoba (2010-12)

Thesis (MPhil (Centre for Higher Education))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Learning in young adulthood, especially in communities where there may be substantial barriers to learning and exclusion from formal education, needs further investigation. This study provides an in-depth investigation of six youths’ predispositions to learning while awaiting trial in a place of safety. This study focused on an in-depth investigation of youths’ predispositions to learning in the particular context of the place of safety (Western Cape, South Africa). I have been working with awaiting trial male youths for over four years as principal at the place of safety. The place of safety is a residential facility for boys and youths between the ages of 10 and 16 years who broke the law and who were at risk. The court placed these youths at the place of safety for the duration of their pending court cases, which may take up to two years in extreme cases like rape and murder. They typically come from communities where they had been exposes to violence, substance abuse and crime, both at home and at school. All of the youths at the place of safety broke the law and were awaiting trial; and they had all dropped out of school or had never attended school. The six respondents used in my study either were abusing drugs themselves or witnessed drug abuse. During their stay al the place of safety, the learners undergo various therapeutic programmes. They also attend school, where the curriculum is adapted to the individual needs of the learners. While working with these youths at the school, I became deeply concerned about the limited prospects they seemed to have. I was curious why most of them demonstrated little or no ambition or eagerness to learn, given that they all had literacy levels below the average for their age group and that most of them had dropped out of school or had never attended school. Popular media reports as well as official documents indicate that youths in South Africa – and the Western Cape in particular – are exposed to drug abuse, violence and crime, which may influence the escalating number of school dropouts. An understanding of the predispositions to learning among awaiting trial youths may contribute to a better understanding of the sense of disempowerment within these communities. This research project focused on qualitative case studies where I tried to discover and understand youths’ predispositions to learning. I followed an interpretive approach to provide insights into the life stories of the six respondents between the ages of 14 and 16 years and how they interpret and make meaning of their personal realities. This marginalised group of people had the opportunity to narrate their individual life stories with relation to their experienced learning processes. I conducted this study, collected, and interpreted data over a period of approximately two-and-a-half v years. I collected data from their official files and by conducting in-depth individual interviews. I video-recorded the six personal interviews and used the footage to assist me in the process of data analysis. The thesis presents the life stories of the six respondents as a foundation for a discussion on how we as educators define and practice adult education in the context of marginalised youth.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die leerprosesse van jeugdiges in gemeenskappe waar akute leerstoornisse en gebreke ten opsigte van formele onderrig heers, behoort nagevors en ondersoek te word. Hierdie studie het gepoog om ondersoek in te stel na die ontvanklikheid of predisposisie van ses jeugdiges teenoor leer terwyl hulle verhoorafwagtend is en in plek van veiligheid aangehou word. Die studie het op grondige ondersoek na die ontvanklikheid of predisposisies vir leer by jeugdiges teen die agtergrond van die plek van veiligheid (Wes-Kaap, Suid-Afrika) gefokus. Ek werk reeds langer as vier jaar by die plek van veiligheid as skoolhoof. Seuns en jeugdiges van 10 tot 16 jaar oud wat die wet oortree het en sorg nodig het, gaan daar tuis nadat die hof hulle daar geplaas het vir die duur van hulle hofsake. In sommige ernstige sake, soos moord en verkragting, kan dit selfs twee jaar neem vir die sake om afgehandel te word. Hulle kom gewoonlik van gemeenskappe waar hulle tuis en by die skool blootgestel was aan geweld, dwelmmisbruik en misdaad. Die ses respondente in my studie het self dwelms misbruik of was blootgestel aan dwelmmisbruik. Alle leerders by die plek van veiligheid het die wet oortree en is verhoorafwagtend. Hulle het die skool op voortydige ouderdom verlaat of het nooit voorheen skoolgegaan nie. Terwyl hulle by die plek van veiligheid bly, ondergaan hulle verskillende terapeutiese programme. Hulle woon ook skool by. Die leerplan is aangepas na aanleiding van die individuele behoeftes van die leerders. Terwyl ek met hierdie seuns en jeugdiges by die skool gewerk het, het ek besorg geraak oor die beperkte verwagtinge wat hulle klaarblyklik gehad het. Ek het gewonder waarom die meeste van hulle min of geen ambisie toon en klaarblyklik min of geen gretigheid het om te leer nie, veral as in ag geneem word dat hulle vlakke van geletterdheid benede die gemiddelde vlakke van hul ouderdomgroepe is en dat die meeste van hulle die skool voortydig verlaat het of selfs nooit skool bygewoon het nie. Algemene beriggewing en amptelike dokumente dui aan dat jeugdiges in Suid- Afrika – en veral in die Wes-Kaap – toenemend aan dwelmmisbruik, geweld en misdaad blootgestel word. Dit kan invloed hê op die groeiende aantal skoolverlaters. Beter begrip van verhoorafwagtende jeugdiges se ontvanklikheid of predisposisies vir leer kan lei tot beter begrip van die graad van ontmagtiging wat in hierdie gemeenskappe ervaar word. Hierdie navorsingstudie het op kwalitatiewe gevallestudies gefokus waartydens ek gepoog het om jeugdiges se ontvanklikheid of predisposisies vir leer te ondersoek en te verstaan. Vertolkende of interpretatiewe benadering is gevolg om insigte te bekom ten opsigte van die lewensverhale van vii die ses respondente en die wyse waarop hulle hul persoonlike werklikhede interpreteer en verstaan. Hierdie gemarginaliseerde groep mense het die geleentheid gekry om hul persoonlike lewensverhale met betrekking tot hul beleefde leerervaringe te verbaliseer. Ek het hierdie studie oor tydperk van ongeveer twee-en-‘n-halwe jaar uitgevoer, met in agneming van dataversameling en –verwerking. Ek het data versamel deur middel van inligting in amptelike dokumente, asook deur die voer van persoonlike onderhoude. Die indringende onderhoude wat ek met ses respondente gevoer het, is op video vasgelê. Ek het hierdie data gebruik in die proses van dataverwerking. Die tesis bied blik op die lewensverhale van die ses respondente. Dit kan dien as grondslag vir diskoers oor hoe die beoefening van volwasse onderrig en leer teen die agtergrond van gemarginaliseerde jeugdiges gedefinieer en toegepas word.

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