Foundation phase learners? view of learning support and self-esteem

12 Aug 2019

Background: Learning support in South Africa is a phenomenon where learners who experience barriers to learning are withdrawn from the mainstream class and receive support in their home language and mathematics. A need for learning support surfaced when emphasis was placed on inclusivity in mainstream schools. The efficacy of this withdrawal on self-esteem has however not been investigated. Aim: This study sought to investigate the learners? experiences of withdrawal for learning support and the relationship with their self-esteem. Setting: A primary school in the Western Cape. Methods: This qualitative design aimed to determine the perspective of the learners. Purposive sampling was used to identify five learners who received learning support. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to analyse data gleaned from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), which had been adapted into an informal interview schedule. Results: Participants in this study did not report negative experiences of learning support. Learners identified that issues of negative self-esteem were unrelated to learning support, but were attributed to school culture, mainstream teachers? attitudes, family relationships, peer comparisons and social competencies. Conclusion: Participants reported that learning support rarely caused negative self-esteem, but rather heightened confidence in their academic abilities regardless of their need for learning support, holding social factors responsible for their negative self-esteem. The implications of these findings allude to the fact that withdrawal for learning support continues regardless of popular beliefs reported to the contrary. Schools should however monitor these learners in order to determine individual differences and needs.