A psychosocial support framework for sustainable learning for learners from child-headed households
Mamotsheare, Lepheana Alice
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The aim of this study is to design a psychosocial support (PSS) framework for sustainable learning for learners from Child-Headed Households (CHHs). The study is therefore guided by the following objectives: - To examine the psychosocial challenges of learners from CHHs so that a relevant support may be practised for sustainable learning. - To elucidate components of a PSS for learners from CHHs for sustainable learning. - To establish how such components relevant to identified challenges may be useful. - To anticipate possible threats to operationalisation of the framework. - To propose a PSS framework for learners from CHHs to account for their learning. The study is embedded within the lens of critical emancipatory research (CER). This is a theoretical framework that guided the study towards the realisation of PSS that attempts to promote social justice, liberation, hope, equity and peace for CHH learners. The literature review indicates various challenges experienced by children of CHHs including learning challenges. The proposed suggestions lead to development of support frameworks for instance Southern African Development Community (SADC), of which nothing is mentioned as far as PSS for learners from CHHs specifically is concerned. Much has been mentioned regarding support to socio-economic problems. Therefore, in order to design a PSS framework relevant to their learning challenges, data was gathered through participatory action research (PAR) which is more applicable for study. This means that the participating team had to be established to the operationalisation of the above objectives. The team consisted of teachers, learners from CHHs, education officials, psychologists and parents' representatives. These are participants who are directly affected by the lack of PSS of learners. The method that is used to generate data is a Free Attitude Interview (FAI) which allowed participants to openly voice out their views responding to posed question such as 'How can we psychosocially support learners from child-headed households to acquire sustainable learning?'. The discussions indicated that there are problems with regard to PSS that needs attention since learners and teachers appear to feel side-lined and oppressed. To deal with inequalities of power amongst teachers and CHH learners, also amongst curriculum officials and the teachers the team identified components of a PSS for sustainable learning. The process of the research was accomplished by developing a common vision, analysing strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) and developing a strategic plan. The research was employed at one school that had higher enrolment of orphans who were members of CHHs to establish usefulness of steps taken. The study revealed that there are many challenges facing CHH learners, therefore it suggests that there is still much work to be done by the government to assist learners. Again findings of the study revealed that learners form CHHs have a challenge of anger which has never been given attention for example, looking at the cause of such anger and how to manage it. Furthermore, findings revealed that most learners of CHHs are experiencing a low self-esteem more often due to their life challenges. This study also found out that there was a limited role played by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in the district in guiding teachers to support learners from CHHs. A pressure of authoritative power from curriculum officials, appeared leading teachers and school management teams (SMTs) to ignore some learners' social problems which could be contributing to their poor academic performance. Finally, the study found out that, different stakeholders in the district such as inclusive specialists, curriculum specialists, senior curriculum management officials and teachers at schools were working in silos. Based on the fore mentioned findings the following was recommended: training both teachers and SMTs to equip them with strategies of dealing with various challenges that are experienced by CHH learners; different directorates within the districts should work together to overcome different challenges because collaboration is a weapon to success. As a result, priorities were identified in order to minimise the challenges indicated above and address the broader aim of the study which led to the proposed PSS framework for sustainable learning for learners form CHHs.