Learner experiences of school violence at a secondary school in Lesotho.
Ngakane, Mamolibeli Vitalina.
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This study explored learner experiences of school violence in a secondary school in Qacha’s Nek, Lesotho. The aim of the study was to understand learners’ experiences of violence as it happens in their school. Internationally, violence in schools is one of the most challenging issues facing educators and learners and school communities at large. The research design was a case study. The research method was the qualitative case study method. Data were collected through individual and focus group interviews with learners and document analysis. Fifteen learners participated in the study, 7 girls and 8 boys. The study found that learners are exposed to complex patterns of violence in the school, and these are experienced in multiple forms that affect learners in different ways. Some of the patterns of violence could be seen in enactments such as solving problems with aggression, violence from teachers, the discourse of blame, collective bullying. The study also found that in certain ways schooling itself can be viewed as violence in that the school had an ethos of authoritarianism and control. Violence in the form of corporal punishment, suspension and expulsion emerged as the most tangible symbol of an authoritarian school. The study also found that violence was a gendered phenomenon at the school. The study highlights the need for proactive programmes that are directed at the attaining goal of building school communities that are safe havens. The findings suggest that a key component of such programmes should be critical self-reflection and self-scrutiny by all members of the school community. In such a process teachers and learners would need to examine and challenge existing social attitudes, ideologies, norms, and injustices in school policies and practices.