School-community partnership in education in a South African rural context : possibilities for an asset-based approach.
Myende, Phumlani Erasmus.
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This case study sought to investigate the possibilities of asset-based approach in school-community partnership. A specific partnership between a secondary school from Vulindlela District, some academic staff members and student teachers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal was studied. To fulfil the purpose of this study, the critical questions such as what assets do partners in the „Nothing for us without us‟ project regard as central in their partnership and to what extent do these partners utilised these assets were used as the basis for data collection in this study. The responses to these critical questions were then used to provide answers to the major inquiry of this study, which was to investigate whether and asset-based approach can be utilised in school-community partnership. The study was conducted within the confines of interpretive paradigm and qualitative case study was adopted as a research approach. To abide by some hallmarks of the case study, multiple data collection methods were utilised. Data were collected using semi-structured individual interviews and documentary analysis. Five teachers (Principal, Deputy Principal, HoD and two post level one teachers) from the case school and two project leaders from the University team participated in the individuals‟ interviews. The proposal document for the current project „Nothing for us without‟, 2007; 2009 and 2010 reports on the previous projects were analysed. The findings of the study revealed that teachers, the school principal, community individuals, organisations and learners, the experience of the school in partnership were regarded as crucial assets in the current partnership. The findings further indicated that physical resources such as the computers available in the school and the buildings were among the assets that were available but they were not regarded as crucial for the partnership. While the assets are identified, the findings also revealed that their utilisation was to a minimum extent. Teachers were reported to be overwhelmed by academic work and also reluctant to participate because of unclear communication of goals of the partnership. The findings further revealed that community assets are not mapped because of the failure to invite community members in the activities of the partnership. I conclude in the study that asset-based approach can be utilised in school-community partnership. However, to enhance the level of asset utilisation, there is a need to re-evaluate the role of the school principal in the partnership. I further recommend coordinated efforts to invite community members in the activities of the partnership.