An exploration of grade 10 rural high school learners' and teachers' experiences of career guidance and counselling within life orientation education.
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The current state of Career Guidance and Counselling within Life Orientation education in South African high schools in the 21st century was explored in this study. In particular, this study was based largely on the experiences of teachers and learners of the status of Career Guidance and Counselling offered in South Africa (with particular emphasis on rural and peri-urban high schools). Conceptualised within the theoretical framework of the Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown & Hackett, 1994), this study aimed to elicit experiences and understandings of teachers and learners about Career Guidance and Counselling in order to explore what can be done to assist millions of young people in South Africa to make informed career decisions. A qualitative methodological approach to research was adopted in conducting this study. The study sample was selected using purposive sampling and consisted of four Life Orientation teachers with teaching experience within the Senior and Further Education and Training (FET) Phases, as well as eight Grade 10 learners. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were used to generate data from the participants in order to explore the experiences and challenges of learning and teaching Career Guidance and Counselling. Data was analysed using Colaizzi's (1978) phenomenological data analysis method in order to accurately depict the experiences of the participants. The conclusions of the study indicate that: most of the learners were unable to provide clear understandings of the term counselling and did not know what the term meant; most teachers do not have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to support learners to make informed subject and career choices; Career Guidance and Counselling within the Life Orientation curriculum seem to not meet the career needs of all learners; and the delivery of the current Life Orientation curriculum within particular contexts is a challenging experience for teachers who participated in this study. However, with appropriate and professional teacher training and a more flexible and adaptable curriculum design, the participants felt that these challenges could be overcome.