Investigating the intersecting influences of barriers to schooling in a rural/suburban context : a case study of grade 6 learners in a primary school in the district of Chatsworth.
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This study explored the barriers to education experienced by a group of learners in the context of HIV and AIDS. It also examined the extent to which HIV/AIDS is viewed as an exclusionary factor in the schooling experiences of primary school children. The research site was a co-educational school that is a service provider to mostly disadvantaged learners from a lower socio-economic background. There were twelve participants in the study: six girls and six boys. Four focus group interviews were conducted with the children to explore their experiences of potential barriers to education. Within the focus group sessions, various participatory research techniques were employed in data collection, including projective techniques, drawing exercises and ranking exercises. The study provides evidence of a complex, at times contradictory, and intricate web of barriers to education that learners experience in this schooling context. In general, various contextual factors have a profoundly negative impact on the children’s schooling experiences, in particular their access to quality education. Children are exposed to multiple, complex layers of risk and trauma from growing up in the context of HIV and AIDS. There is little evidence that the school has the resources to provide emotional and psychological support. The study has implications for the development of policy and intervention strategies that may meet these children’s needs. Finally, the study makes a contribution to research methodology in its use of participatory research techniques for data collection. The data exemplifies that children are active participants in and competent interpreters of their world – in this case their lives and schooling in the context of HIV and AIDS.