Opvoederwees te midde van die realiteite van landelike geenskoolfondslaerskole

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ENGLISH ABSTRACT : At the dawn of democracy in South Africa in 1994 the new government was faced with the challenge of participating in a global neoliberalist world while at the same time having to address historical inequalities in its education system. No-fee schools came about as a government strategy to address the negative impact of poverty and rising school costs on the poor in South Africa. These are public schools where no school fees are charged to parents with a limited income because the state pays for every schoolgoing learner in the school, for the learning materials needed, as well as the costs for the upkeep of the school. The problem is that hegemonic ideas about what the ideal teacher ought to be as well as the predominant focus on school results very often prevent us from gaining the analytical understanding of the complex challenges that face some educators in performing their duties. Furthermore, studies about the impact of the no-fee-school policy on educators working in such schools have thus far focused mainly on challenges in the management of these schools and have not yet explored educators‘ experiences in these schools. This article focuses on the experiences of educators in rural no-fee schools and more specifically on how they make sense of being teachers in the midst of contextual and institutional challenges in rural contexts. My central thesis is that constant changing departmental expectations of educators concerning the delivery of the curriculum without taking contextual and institutional factors into account not only bring about changes in educators‘ pedagogical habitus, but also changes the nature of schooling in a school. One of the biggest challenges for the post-1994 government was to adress deep historical inequalities in the South African education system (Bush and Heystek 2006). These inequalities, argue Hungi, Makuwa, Ross, Saito, Dolata and Van Capelle (2011, in Hoffman, Sayed and Badroodien 2016), revolved around higher levels of poverty and black schools1 compared with historically white schools and even schools in other parts of Africa. No-fee schools is the government‘s attempt to protect low income-parents from rising school costs. The state supports such schools by paying for its personnel and non-personnel expenditures. Four considerations are taken into account when the state subsidises such schools, namely the rights of learners, the minimum basic package to ensure quality education, the national distribution of income differences and poverty, and the state‘s budget. The parents of children in such schools are expected to support the school where there are still shortcomings. If these schools are relieved of the burden of costs, what, then, could still be problematic? Dominant perceptions of what an ideal teacher is, as well as an overemphasis on school results as an indicator of quality education prevent us from gaining an analytical understanding of the complex contextual and institutional realities that educators in these schools face. Furthermore, poor literacy and numeracy results in these schools often contribute to narrow and often untested criticism and stereotyping of the work ethic and professionalism of educators. This article is an attempt to offer insight into the complex contextual and institutional realities that contribute to specific perceptions of being an educator in no-fee rural schools. The study shows that educators in rural no-fee schools draw on capital forms that inform their teaching practices which enable them to mediate between the constant quantitative expectations from their employer and the humanitarian needs of their learners. The aim and purpose of this research was to provide some insight into the complex contextual and institutional realities that educators in rural no-fee schools face which contribute to their perceptions of and approaches to teaching. A qualitative approach, and integrating empirical and descriptive data, was followed. This approach was useful because it allowed the researcher to describe the lived world realities of people from the inside out and from the perspectives of the participants (Flick, Von Kardoff and Steinke 2004:3). After obtaining ethical clearance from the Western Cape Education Department, I conducted semi-structured interviews with six experienced educators representing three different school phases in three different no-fee primary schools in Circuit 4 on the West coast of South Africa. Purposive sampling was used because of the participants‘ intimate knowledge and experiences of being teachers in rural no-fee schools. Narrative data analysis helped me to categorise the participants‘ different experiences into themes (Carr 1986, Webster and Mertova 2007:3). I employ Bourdieu‘s interrelated theoretical concept of habitus (1990:53) to explain educatorsꞌ behaviour because of prolonged exposure to specific circumstance and the concept of field(1998) to explain schools as examples of spaces which take on different forms because of specific institutional discourses, value systems and rules in them. Furthermore, Yosso's notion of community cultural wealth (2005) with alternative forms of resistance and navigational capital (2005:80) employed by marginalised people in particular, further helped to explain how educators are able to stay on course, navigating through the contextual and institutional obstacles they face in such schools. The research findings show that rural no-fee schools predominantly serve poor black learners who, despite not having to pay school fees, still struggle with historical socio-welfare challenges. Educators in rural no-fee primary schools are highly frustrated by the demanding performative departmental curriculum delivery expectations which completely ignore the contextual and institutional realities of educators in such schools. The one-size-fits-all approach of the department ignores the fact that learners bring their contextual challenges in their homes and community with them to school. The practices of educators in these schools are very often informed by challenges to attend to the humanitarian needs of their learners before they attend to curriculum imperatives. This, coupled with little support from parents, often leads to low pass rates, which in turn portrays them as underperforming and even unprofessional. Despite the unfavourable schooling conditions under which they have to perform their duties, these educators draw their resilience from different forms of capitals and make the most of their profession.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Geenskoolfondsskole is tot stand gebring as ‘n strategie van die regering om die negatiewe effek van armoede en stygende skoolkoste op arm mense in Suid-Afrika aan te spreek. Studies oor die impak van die geenskoolfondsbeleid op opvoeders werksaam in geenskoolfondsskole fokus meestal op uitdagings in die bestuur van sulke skole en het nog nie indringend geraak aan opvoeders se belewing van opvoederwees in veral landelike kontekste nie. Hierdie artikel fokus op die ervarings van opvoeders in landelike geenskoolfondsskole – meer spesifiek, hoe hierdie opvoeders sin maak van opvoederwees te midde van kontekstuele en institusionele uitdagings in ‘n landelike skoolkonteks. Gerig deur kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodes bied hierdie artikel ‘n beskrywing van die ervarings van opvoeders in drie landelike geenskoolfondsskole aan die Weskus van Suid-Afrika. Die doel van die artikel is om die kontekstuele en institusionele kompleksiteite waarmee opvoeders in geenskoolfondsskole te kampe het en wat hulle voortdryf ten spyte van moeilike werksomstandighede, te beskryf en te bespreek.
CITATION: Joorst, J. 2019. Opvoederwees te midde van die realiteite van landelike geenskoolfondslaerskole. LitNet Akademies, 16(1):367-394.
The original publication is available at https://www.litnet.co.za
Primary school teaching -- South Africa -- Western Cape, Rural schools -- South Africa -- Western Cape, Primary school teachers -- Resilience, Non-payment schools -- South Africa -- Western Cape
Joorst, J. 2019. Opvoederwees te midde van die realiteite van landelike geenskoolfondslaerskole. LitNet Akademies, 16(1):367-394