Learner conflict within school spaces and places : the case of one primary school in KwaZulu-Natal.
Schools are becoming an environment of conflict in South Africa and facing numerous challenges in that learners do not understand the importance of being a learner at school. Most learners have experienced conflict whether they are victims or perpetrators and the conflict investigated in this study highlighted the negative impact on learners i.e. where learners failed to perform and achieve in class and as a result, conflict has affected their progress. Conflict within the school context is a barrier to teaching and learning, students do not achieve their full potential either in school or in their community. The study was qualitative in nature, a narrative inquiry which included interviews and an innovative participatory research method called photo voice as data generation tools. The theoretical frameworks utilised was that of Children’s Geographies and New Childhood Studies. The study was conducted at a primary school in KwaZulu-Natal and the respondents were eight grade five learners – four boys and four girls. The findings of the study revealed that all respondents had been exposed to conflict or negative behaviours in the schooling environment. The study also revealed that respondents were found to be accepting of certain behaviours as they had no alternative... they were threatened if found to have complained against bullies. The study also showed that the development or expansion of conflict leads to learners being marginalised and excluded. The findings of this study suggest that developing effective non-violent strategies for conflict resolution facilitates the learning process and promotes a friendly school environment. There is a need for conflict resolution programmes to be developed and implemented in schools and it must be discussed in detail by all stakeholders involved. Such programmes will be an indication that the South African curriculum has the potential to change learner’s attitude and v make better behaviour. There must be multiple level interventions that should be organised. Such interventions will involve people like parents, community members and teachers even school governing bodies. It is said that such interventions will contribute in creating learner friendly environments and promoting inclusiveness in the system of education. There is a great need for conflict resolution skills training in schools in order to implement an effective conflict prevention strategy.