Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ISER Paper Mohlakwana



Dr Mokgadi Mohlakwana



19 – 21 July 2010

Table of Contents

No. theme page
1. Abstract 3
2 Introduction 3
3 The legal imperatives 4
4 The definition of concepts 5
4.1 The concept of child-headed households 5
4.2 Pastoral care 5
5 Child-headed households 5-6
6 The role played by the school in heading for the child- headed households 6-8
7 Intervention strategies 8
8 Conclusion 8
9 References 9

Literature review on care and support for vulnerable children: the case of child-headed families

1. Abstract:

The South African Law expects educators to take responsibility in caring for the learner. The common law regarding duty of care is imposed on the educator by in loco parentis, meaning,’ in the place of a parent The objective of this paper is to explore ways and means through which child headed households can be cared for and supported in schools. The researcher will also look at the seven roles of the teacher with special focus on the pastoral role in the context of these children. The main research question addressed in this study is: how can schools better care for children in child headed households? The paper will also deliberate on whether practicing educators are empowered to deal with challenges facing learners both at home and at school. The main method of data collection will be document analysis. Initial findings indicate that children in child headed households need support and protection in dealing with their unfortunate circumstances.

Key words: vulnerable children, child-headed family, pastoral role, home, school

2. Introduction
This paper intends to investigate the extent to which schools care for children in child-headed households. It will look into the role played by educators and the school in trying to help the learners. The method of investigation will be literature analysis. At the end of this paper some strategies for intervention will be made.

3. The legal imperatives

South African Constitution guarantees the protection of rights for all, including children. In every matter concerning the child, it would be of extreme importance to take regard of the best interest of the child into heart. (Davel, 2000: v) The declaration of Geneva, expressed an important claim to confirm the principle of “mankind owing to the child the best it has to give”( Kaime, 2009) The 5th Assembly of the League of Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1924 Declaration) which provided for the principle that “{t}he child must be given the means requisite for its normal development , both materially and spiritually” (Kaime,2009:12). This implies the fulfillment of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In this case it specifically refers to the basic needs (shelter, food, etc).

The above factors, amongst others, had a significant impact in shaping Child law in South Africa. The relationship between the child and third parties, including the school, has changed significantly, too. (Davel, 2000: v) The Child Care Act, No.74 of 1983, declares that ‘every dentist, medical practitioner, nurse, social worker or educator, or any person employed by or managing a children’s home, place of care or shelter, who examines, attends to or deals with any child in circumstances giving rise to the suspicion that the child has been ill-treated, or suffers from any injury, single or multiple, …shall notify the Director-general or any officer designated ...’ ( De Waal, Theron & Robinson, December 2001 :165). The Constitution of South Africa in Section 28 includes the right of every child “to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative when removed from the family environment” Educators have a, responsibility to take care of the learners, based in their loco parentis position ( De Waal et al. : 151)

The educator is, therefore, obligated by the law to report and protect the child against any harmful activities. It is against this background that the educator, as a classroom manager, will be expected to perform the community, citizen and pastoral role function, as one of the seven roles of the educator. The educators need skills to perform this function. This paper will interrogate various ways in which the above matter can be exercised.

4. The definition of concepts

4.1 The concept Child headed households” is explained as households where all members are under 18 years of age, such households have only children as household members (Meintjes & Hall, 2009)

4.2 Pastoral care
1. Pastoral care is a concept that is complex, multi-dimensional, and embraces issues related to discipline. Slabbert (2003) regards an educator playing a pastoral role as empowering and providing a supportive environment for the learner. Such an educator also responds to the educational and other needs of the learner. The paper argues that educators in an organization share the same vision, and thus belong to a school community. This simply means that educators are responsible for the caring of the learners who are without parents.

5. Child-headed households
According to Meintjies et al. (2009), most children in child headed households are not AIDS orphans. The 2006 Households Surveys found that only 8% of children living child headed households were children who had lost both parents, whereas 80%had a living mother. The perception is that child headed households mainly comprise orphans that emanate from HIV/AIDS families, but research disputes that. This paper argues further that child-headed households are not only the result of HIV/AIDS pandemic. An approximated number of child headed households in South Africa is 122 000 (Meintjies et al, 2009). Child headed households’ problems are no different from other people’s problems with poverty being the main one. Other problems are unique, like an inability to obtain grants. (Humanities Conference, Debra Anne Horsten)

It is less likely for child-headed households not to live in formal dwellings (Meintjies et al, 2009), with minimum amenities like water and ablution facilities at their disposal. Half the population of child-headed households in Pietermaritzburg in the province of KwaZulu Natal were school drop outs, providing reasons ranging from being punished for coming late, failing tests or being unable to complete homework due to their responsibilities at home, not having appropriate shoes or school uniform, (Ewing, 2004).
The above mentioned statements are a reflection of what happens in South African disadvantaged schools with child headed households not receiving particular attention. The paper argues that the schools must pay particular attention to pastoral care roles meant for all learners experiencing the circumstances of not being cared for.

6. The role played by the school in caring for child-headed households

The educator is ideally placed to protect the learner. There is an outcry over the fact that educators have had minimum training or no training at all, and thus lack confidence (Kay, 2003).Some educators continue to claim that procedures in child protection are an additional burden (Kay, 2003) The role played by educators is not as expected. The level at which educators involve themselves in supporting such children is not always at the level of their training and expertise.

Child-headed households need love. Schools must function according to a set of values that will have love, respect and peace. Schools must give them hope. Teaching is a moral act based on values. These learners must also be taught ethics (right and wrong).

Catholic schools are of the opinion that when education is referred to as transformative, it has a role of recognizing the wholeness of the learner, ( Flynn, 1993) In that way, pastoral care is described as the school’s expression of concern for individuals.(Flynn, 1993)

The school is expected to play the following roles in helping child-headed households in their development, namely:
• The learning mediator;
• Interpreter and designer of learning programmes and materials;
• Leader, administrator and manager;
• Scholar, researcher and lifelong learner;
• Community, citizenship and pastoral role;
• Assessor;
• Learning area /subject/discipline/phase specialist.

The educators’ seven roles are associated with competencies and affect the norms for educator development (Slabbert, 2003)

This paper puts more emphasis on the importance of pastoral care to the learner. The whole school must be responsible for caring for the learner. Pastoral issues need to be addressed on a continual basis.

Children can experience emotional neglect, which refers to the parents’ failure to meet the child’s need for love, security, positive regard and praise. Emotional neglect can also be associated with a parent who is psychologically unavailable to the child. (Kay, 2003) This will actively affect the child’s emotional and psychological well being, thus leading the child to seek a close relationship with the educator or any staff member. (Kay, 2003)

7. Intervention strategies
7.1. Educators should refer learners to bodies or structures such as the Home Affairs, Psychological services, school’s life orientation department, churches and other relevant bodies/agencies.

7.2. Those educators who are willing to adopt some of the learners should be encouraged to follow proper legal procedures and adopt some of the children in child-headed households.

7.3. Schools should protect children in child-headed households. The reason is that human rights are birthrights of all human beings and their protection are the responsibility of schools and educators.
7.4. Extended families should be involved in alleviating the plight of child-headed households. The African idiomatic expression says it takes a village to raise a child, hence this paper recommends the involvement of extended families.

8. Conclusion:

Children from child-headed households are also special children like all the other learners in the school. They need to be loved and be taught how to love themselves and others. Schools can make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.

9. References

Davel,CJ (ed), 2000, Introduction to Child Law in South Africa.
Juta & Co Ltd. The Rustica Press, Ndabeni, Western Cape

De Waal, E, Theron, T, & Robinson, R. 2001 December, Perspectives in Education. Vol 19 No.4 Pretoria.

Ewing, D. 2004. Report on the Children’s Participation Component of Monitoring Child Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa: Achievements and Challenges. Idasa. Tandym Print, Cape Town.

Flynn, M. 1993. The Culture of Catholic Schools. Catalogue.nlg.gov.au.

Kaime, T. 2009. The African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child: A socio-legal perspective. Pretoria University Law Press, Cape Town.

Horsten, DA. 2005. Towards the Recognition of Child-Headed Households as a Form of Alternative Care. The Third International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities. Homerton College, University of Cambridge, UK, 2-5 August 2005.

Kay, J. 2003, Teacher’s Guide to Protecting Children. Originator Publishing Services. Great Britain

Meintjies, H. & Hall, Katherine, 2009.Children’s institute. Child rights in focus. University of Cape Town

Slabbert,JA. 2003. Facilitating Learning: seven educator roles. The
workbook. University of Pretoria- Faculty of Education

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