Enhancing a school enrichment programme for sustainable learning at rural high school
Mokoena, Mosebetsi Samuel
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This study is aimed at recommending the strategies for enhancing SEP for sustainable learning at a rural high school. To achieve this, the study was guided by the following objectives. 1. To justify the need for enhancing SEP for sustainable learning at a rural high school. 2. To identify and discuss the components and aspects necessary for the enhancement of SEP for sustainable learning at a rural high school. 3. To determine the conditions for the enhancement of SEP for sustainable learning at a rural high school. 4. To identify the barriers against the enhancement of SEP for sustainable learning at a rural high school. 5. To recommend strategies for enhancing SEP for sustainable learning at a rural high school. Critical Emancipatory Research was used as the theoretical framework anchoring this study. At the school in which I work learners are excluded from the process of designing and implementing SEP. Consequently, the design and implementation of the programme is based on the assumptions of the educators rather than the needs of the learners, who are often marginalised as they are not included in decision-making processes. Employing CER in this study helped to eliminate this one-sided and authoritative way of viewing and addressing issues. The dialogical methods of collecting dataused in CER enabled participants to express views through dialogue. In addition, CER encouraged the co-researchers and I to work together to address the objectives of the study, as opposed to my assuming and imposing my views on them. Moreover, as explained above, there existed a power struggle between principals, teachers, parents and learners regarding the design and implementation of SEP. In this case, employing CER not only created a space for discussion but also empowered the marginalised learners by giving them space to contribute to their own emancipation. I then reviewed both international and national literature on Afterschool programmes (School Enrichment Programmes). This enabled me to understand the nature of these programmes in different contexts. In this regard, while literature revealed many challenges facing SEP, it also provided the strategies used in circumventing those challenges. Furthermore, the reviewed literature revealed the conditions which contributed to making these strategies flourish in some cases while they were hampered by many threats in other cases. The intention in this regard was to understand the reasons for some strategies to work effectively while others failed. In the same vein, to understand how these strategies tend to work effectively. Data was collected within the Participatory Action Research (PAR) paradigm. In addition to advocating both meaningful participation and emancipation of marginalised communities, PAR recognises the strengths of both individuals and community members in effecting social change and growth. It further recognises the experiences that co-researchers bring to the research process and how these shape the outcomes of this process. It is the duty of the researchers to participate in these experiences or include in their studies co-researchers who have lived and undergone these experiences. In this study, the workshops (meetings) were held at the same school, situated in the same area in which most participants resided. In addition, during these workshops the co-researchers spoke about the issues which they had experienced within their own contexts. By creating for them a platform to speak openly about their experiences, both the co-researchers and I were able to share perspectives on the issue at hand. Not only did this solidify our relationship but it also allowed us to create new knowledge based on multiple perspectives. This empirical data confirmed the existence of challenges in both the design and implementation of SEP. These include: lack of diversity in the activities offered in the programme; ambivalent roles of parents and lack of their involvement in the programme; negative attitudes of learners towards the programme; the rural location of the school; and poor quality of leadership and management in the programme. To circumvent the above-mentioned challenges, the study proposed the following strategies.These strategies could be divided into both school and community levels. At school level, they include effective leadership and management, learner participation, and the provision of diverse and varied activities in the programme. At community level the strategies involve formation of partnerships between the school and the community. Also, the partnerships between the school and local business people proved to be useful strategies. In short, this study revealed that consultation, equal participation, communication, collaboration, positive relationships, and partnerships amongst all relevant stakeholders at different levels help in enhancing SEP for sustainable learning at a rural high school.
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