What are the lived experiences of the needs and the expectations of orphaned learners?

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Relationship with relatives

This sub-theme describes the experiences of the orphaned learners with the relatives who play the role of caregivers and those who provide assistance for the caregivers. Orphaned learners’ experiences and opinions of their relationship with their relatives were diverse, although mostly negative. There were cases where the orphaned learner recounted being mistreated by relatives and not being given the support they needed. For one learner being ill treated by a relative was in the form of being denied time to play like other children and receiving endless chores. She felt that her grandmother did not understand her needs. Another learner’s experience of ill treatment was being falsely accused of breaking a television set and subsequently being beaten for it. In yet another case a learner had to live with his sister because the grandmother drank alcohol and came home late, interfering with his homework. It is likely that some of the orphans were not receiving what they expected from their relatives. Some of the experiences of the orphaned learners give the impression that orphans are concerned about fair treatment, and value quality time with their friends and education.
Not all learners experienced neglect and ill treatment from relatives. There were some narrations of experiences of supportive relatives and friends. There were instances where relatives and friends intervened and assisted orphans in providing for their needs. One learner reported how her sister’s friends interceded when they did not have food and clothes and gave them food parcels and clothes. Previous studies (Foord, Jallow, Paine & Sarr, 2004; Horizon Project, 2005) also report multiple realities of experiences of the children in their studies with regard to support from extended families. Some of the orphans in the studies were helped by extended families while others received no support or were ill treated by their extended family members. In my study, although most of the learners reported that some of their relatives provided for their material needs, there were a few incidences of relatives supporting the learners emotionally.

Behaviour of the orphaned learners

The majority of the educators interviewed from both schools indicated that they identify orphans and their needs by analysing the learner’s behaviour. Educator Mtalala explained that orphaned learners are learners who often react violently towards fellow learners and educators; while Educator Chabalala described these learners’ behaviour as often being disruptive in class and that they dodged coming to school after the lunch break. Educator Malope on the other hand explained the absenteeism of some of the learners as being caused by hunger and lack of concentration in class. Educator Mtalala believed that the orphans react violently and are disruptive14 in class due to their emotional state and their deprived needs. She described the orphaned learners’ behaviour as ranging from withdrawal to reacting violently when teased by other learners. Willis (2002) identifies withdrawal and violent behaviour as common signs of mourning. This therefore implies that some of the orphans in the study could still be mourning the death of their parent(s). Dowdney (2000) points out that one in five bereaved children is likely to have emotional and behavioural symptoms manifested in forms of anxiety, depression, anger, outbursts and regression. De Witt and Lessing (2005) concur, reporting that educators in their study indicated that factors influencing the psychological behaviour of orphans in their schools involved depression, sadness and stigmatisation.
Another reported concern of Educator Chabalala was the behaviour of the orphans outside the school premises. Educators Chabalala and Selepe, both on the staff at School A, believed that orphans engage in criminal activities, such as prostitution and breaking into houses to steal, when they were not engaged in school activities. The educators interviewed by Giese et al. (2003), reported cases of children dropping out of school and either begging on the street or getting involved in crime to meet their needs.The two educators from School A who were quoted believed that orphaned learners get involved in criminal activities to survive because there is nobody accountable to provide for their needs. On the other hand, Educator Dube commented that, in terms of general behaviour, orphaned learners are just like other learners. They do not have distinctive behavioural problems. The excerpts further indicate that although some orphaned learners may have relatives who provide for their material needs, there seems to be a gap in terms of parental involvement in supporting the orphans’ learning experience. The learners may not regard the adult figures in their lives as parents hence the hesitation in approaching them to assist them with their homework.

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1. Introduction and overview of the study
1.1 Background of the study.
1.2 Rationale.
1.3 Context.
1.4 Statement of research problem.
1.5 Research purpose and questions
1.6 Research assumptions
1.7 Theoretic perspective.
1.8 Scope and limitation of the study.
1.9 Enhancing quality of the study.
1.10 Ethical considerations
1.11 Structure of the thesis.
1.12 Summary.
2. Research methodology
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Paradigmatic assumptions
2.3 The research process
2.4 Data collection
2.5 Data analysis
2.6 Quality of the study
2.7 Summary
3. What are the lived experiences of the needs and the expectations of orphaned learners?
3.1 Introduction
3.2. Theme 1: A world in the absence of parents
3.3 Theme 2: Relationship with others
3.4 Theme 3: Conceptions of identity as orphans
3.5 Theme 4: Financial and material needs
3.6 Summary
4. How educators identify and respond to the needs of orphaned learners: emerging themes
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Themes
4.3 Summary
5. Emerging core category
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Relationship between sub-themes and core category
5.3 Summary
6. Examining the emerging themes in relation to the literature
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Attachment theory
6.3 Choice theory6.4 The role of education
6.5 The role of educators
6.6 Summary
7. Emerging theory, future research and conclusion
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Findings and Emerging theory
7.3 Limitation of the study
7.4 Contribution of the study
7.5 Future research
7.6 Conclusion


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