The difference between failure and success: barriers and facilitators impacting on academic performance of progressed learners within the FET Phase of a school in KwaZulu-Natal.
Lamont George, Janet.
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Academic underperformance, grade repetition, and subsequent non-completion of school are educational challenges that are not indigenous to South Africa. Progression (or social promotion), where a learner is promoted to a subsequent grade even though the learner may not have fulfilled the requirements for promotion, is one strategy that has been used in education systems worldwide to address these kinds of educational challenges. Within the South African context, even though the progression policy mandates that schools provide support measures and interventions targeting progressed learners, a high proportion of progressed learners still end up failing to complete school. The purpose of this study is to provide insight into the barriers and facilitators facing progressed learners, the influence of key role players, and aims to identify additional support initiatives, which could potentially aid in improving academic outcomes of progressed learners. Current literature in the South African context has not focused on the actual support measures being implemented to address progressed learners’ barriers to learning. Therefore, this study provides some insight into the type of support measures employed by schools, and therefore assists in understanding the impact thereof and guides future recommendations of effective support measures. This was a qualitative study drawing on the perspectives of educators and progressed learners on how contexts and relationships with key role players impact on academic performance of progressed learners. The findings of the study illustrate that interventions provided for progressed learners typically only focus on the academic curriculum. Ideally, support measures should be multitiered and structured to the specific needs of individual learners across the classroom, home and community setting. Key findings of this research suggest that training on identifying learning barriers will need to be a priority of the Department of Basic Education and schools. Such identification will allow learning barriers to be addressed adequately by educators and likely lead to less learners requiring progression.