Stark white : experiences of learners with albinism (LWA) in primary and secondary schools in the uMlazi District.
Msomi, Veronica Delisile.
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This qualitative study had a dual purpose. The first was to investigate the experiences of learners with albinism in their school environment and the second was to identify ways learners with albinism navigate those experiences. The study consisted of six secondary school learners in different schools under Umlazi District. One of these schools was a special school that enrolled learners with different learning difficulties, learners with albinism were about 25% of the whole school enrolment. These learners met the sampling criteria of having oculocutaneous albinism, thus having a first-hand experience of the condition. A review of literature indicated that the poor scholastic achievement of learners with albinism is caused by their poor eyesight, teachers’ and learners’ bad attitudes toward learners with albinism, and unsupportive family members. Data elicited in this study revealed that learners with albinism in the Umlazi District develop navigation strategies to help them through their discriminatory and prejudistic experiences. Data was collected using in-depth interviews and focus group discussion. The researcher had specific guidelines in place for participants’ health and psychological needs since some of the interview questions touched sensitive issues. Data analysis adhered to the guidelines outlined by Braun and Clark (2006). The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed for data analysis. The researcher listened to audio tapes several times before transcribing them. Data was broken down and classified into six phases that were interrelated. After familiarisation with data the researcher generated codes, searched and identified themes and produced a report. Participants of this study were teenagers. Teenagers value their privacy, the researcher was aware she was invading that privacy during the interviews. The researcher assured the participants of anonymity and also that data collected will be treated with confidentiality. Stigma theory provided a framework for understanding variables influencing the experiences of learners with albinism. From this study several recommendations were made to assist teachers include learners with albinism in their classrooms. The researcher believes the recommendations that emanated from this study will help diminish the school dropout rate of learners with albinism.