Exploring psychosocial support systems for vulnerable children in rural schools.
Ndlovu, Thembinkosi Victor.
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The HIV/AIDS pandemic and high levels of violence in South Africa have resulted in increased prevalence of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Vulnerable children experience barriers to learning and development. Broader socio-economic circumstances, including community health issues and dire poverty, such as is faced in rural communities, intensify the vulnerability. This qualitative study explored the educational prospects of lives of vulnerable children in rural schools, with a special focus on the psychosocial support systems available to them. Three layers of data generation techniques (Observation, Document analysis and Interviews) were employed in the exploratory case studies to explore the lives of three learners within the framework of two theories; Communities of Practice (CoP) and Social Constructivism. The amalgamated theoretical framework was intended to; raise awareness of the plight of rural children, advance social cognition, and to lobby for social justice. Two orphanage schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal were selected for the study. Purposive sampling was used to select three learners, four teachers, a resident social worker, a member of school management and two caregivers. The selected participants were regarded as integral voices and potential role players in the envisaged psychosocial support systems collaboration. The findings pointed to a critical shortage of psychosocial support systems for vulnerable children in rural schools, especially highly specialized services like educational psychology services, proper health care, food security and focused poverty alleviation initiatives.