The influence of township schools on the resilience of their learners20 Jun 2011
Many learners living in townships require protection and resilience to overcome obstacles and adversities in their context of development. The literature on resilience indicates strongly that resilience is embedded systemically. In the absence of constructive and supportive conditions in the home environment, the school would logically appear to be the next resource in line to be tapped. We investigated the contribution of two South African township schools to the resilience of their middleadolescent learners. Case studies with focus groups of resilient and less-resilient Grade 9 learners were used, following the Interactive Qualitative Analysis method, to determine the participants’ perceptions of how the school contributes to the degree and nature of their resilience. The influence of the school varied depending on the degree of the learners’ resilience, but also depending on factors within the school itself, suggesting that schools play a distinctive and determining role. Contributions particularly highlighted included creation, or failure to create, a supportive teaching and learning environment with effective implementation of rules and educational policy to provide care and safety for its learners and develop them to reach their future goals. Resilient learners were more ready than less resilient learners to acknowledge and utilise these characteristics. All focus groups placed much emphasis on goal attainment, suggesting a strong relationship with resilience.