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TitleSupport provision to schools in a context of HIV/AIDS, poverty and gender inequality
AuthorOlsen, Sissel Tove
SubjectWestern Cape Education Department (WCED)
SubjectLife Skills Programme
SubjectTeacher Inservice Project (TIP)
SubjectSystemic Transformation for Education Development and Support (STEDS)
SubjectSexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
SubjectAcquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
AbstractPhilosophiae Doctor - PhD
AbstractThe school environment presents a valuable opportunity for the identification, monitoring and support of children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and poverty. Many children are caring for parents suffering from AIDS-related illnesses and/or they are the main breadwinner of the household. As a result of HIV/AIDS and poverty therefore, children might be dropping out of school, or their ability to perform adequately at school might be significantly reduced. The aim of this study was to use a case study approach to explore and describe support provision in a South African formal school, examining, in particular, the relative significance of leadership, organisational development and gender-related matters in addressing the needs of children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and poverty. The availability and quality of this support is analysed within the context of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) transforming itself from a system focused on controlling schools to a system focused on supporting schools. The reflexive qualitative research approach was decided upon m order to describe and understand how, and to what extent, the teachers and the principal of a poverty-stricken primary school might benefit from the WCED"s systemic change processes when addressing issues related to HIV/AIDS and poverty. The methodological rationale for this qualitative research approach forms part of a search for meaning within the cultural context(s) of the school in an effort to understand issues related to HIV/AIDS in schools. The research"s second aim was to establish principles for an approach to educational support, which would be applicable in similar situations elsewhere. In the case study, the focus is on the WCED supporting the principal and teachers at a poverty-stricken primary school in carrying out their roles as leaders, teachers and caregivers. In order for the principal and teachers to provide quality support to the learners, they themselves need to receive appropriate forms of support from the education system. For this research to be contextually grounded, questions around HIV/AIDS and the growing number of orphans and vulnerable children in many communities were considered. One of the central questions was: How are the challenges of daily life in the running of a school met where issues related to poverty and health are dominant? Gender-based sexual violence and sexual abuse of children, as well as other social problems affecting learners in the school investigated for this thesis were included in the addressing of the main questions The complexity of the issues involved when exploring the research questions became increasingly more apparent during the research journey of this thesis. I experienced fully the potential of the case study to provide a "thick" description and contribute significantly to an in-depth understanding of a complex phenomenon from a local and holistic perspective. I was able to focus on how the macro-narratives of support policy connected to the micro-narratives of teachers in primary schools. Based on the findings of the research, I concluded that the problems of HIV/AIDS-affected children, families and communities do not only overlap considerably with the problems related to poverty - a widely held view among researchers - but that poverty-related problems may, indeed, conceal the very existence of HIV/AIDS. The investigation shows that the wide-spread poverty affecting the case school learners, seems to have "blinded" teachers in terms of "seeing" the learner in a context of HIV/AIDS. This phenomenon in the case school was observed in spite of the HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator claiming that the district"s teachers had learned to "see" the learner in ways which they had not prior to the introduction of the WCED"s HIV/AIDS Life Skills Programme I trust that the different stakeholders within the field of education and HIV/AIDS will benefit from the findings and recommendations flowing from this investigation. First and foremost, I believe that the lessons learnt from the fieldwork, could be of use to South African stakeholders generally, and, in particular, to the Western Cape Education Department and those working as school support staff at district level (the EMDCs). The findings of the study may provide valuable feedback to the current practices of the school support structures, including the voluntary HIV/AIDS support structure, and form a basis for informed further action by the relevant government departments and other stakeholders in education. In this way, the thesis could contribute to improved formal school support provision in the context of HIV/AIDS, and therefore, serve to enhance the quality of education for all children.
PublisherUniversity of the Western Cape