School management of learner problems in the context of an impoverished school community.
This study investigated teachers’ management of learner problems in the context of an impoverished school community. The rationale for the study took into consideration the constant demands placed on learners and teachers by poverty-related issues. By illuminating the factors that affect teachers’ work performance in the context of an impoverished school community, it is hoped that all education stakeholders would be motivated to support, assist and guide teachers to overcome the current challenges with regard to poverty in schools, thus enhancing their work performance as well as that of their impoverished learners. The study employed a qualitative research design. Through a process of purposive sampling, five teachers from a primary school from the Phoenix Ward of the Pinetown District in KwaZulu-Natal were selected. The data were generated by means of semistructured interviews. The data gathered were coded and organized into themes, categories and sub-categories. Content analysis was used to analyze the data. The findings suggest that the consequences of poverty at school level are numerous and become even more complex when there is a lack of parental support at community level. Furthermore, they reveal that poverty impacts negatively on learners’ academic performance. Factors associated with poor work performance by learners included abuse, parental apathy, the environment, and a lack of resources, to name but a few. Praise and recognition, as well as democratic leadership styles on the part of teachers have a positive influence on learners’ work performance. Flexibility, care and visible intervention by teachers and the school have been found to have a positive impact on learners’ attitude towards school. The study concludes with a number of recommendations to address and manage the problems experienced by learners in impoverished contexts.