Co-Constituting the Process of Schooling: A Sociological Inquiry of Interrelationships Between Parents, Learners and a Township Secondary School in the Tshwane South District, South Africa.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 4C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Vangile D BINGMA, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Interrelationships between schools, parents and communities are important for facilitating a conducive learning environment. In South Africa, the South African School’s Act No. 84 of 1996 (SASA) and Schools 2025 set out guidelines for school (i.e. principals, educators and officials), parent and learner partnerships. Although SASA and Schools 2025 envisage productive interrelationships in the schooling process, research focusing on school governing bodies, a forum for school partnerships, has shown that interrelationships between parents and schools in South African townships and rural areas are often limited, contentious and fractured. Also, community protests widely covered in South African media show how ‘strong’ parent/school/community partnerships may not always be beneficial to the schooling process. Additionally, the role of learners as stipulated in SASA and Schools 2025 does not seem to be taken seriously. Drawing on data from an on-going doctoral study in the Tshwane South District, South Africa, the paper demonstrates how a township secondary school, parents and learners co-constitute the schooling process. About 30 learners, 10 teachers and 10 families are participating in the ethnographic study. Early results indicate two things: First, existing school/family/community models do not sufficiently account for the role of secondary school learners in influencing education partnerships. Second, a context characterised by diverse cultures, high levels of poverty, fractured relations of authority between teachers and learners, and between learners and parents as well as an entrenched culture of school disruptions by learner representatives, requires varied intervention strategies to achieve workable interrelationships for developing a conducive learning environment. The paper concludes by offering suggestions on how to strengthen school/family/learner/community partnerships in the secondary school.