The imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning cannot be taken for granted nor can that be look at in isolation. Schools and their teachers will always be influenced and affected by their communities they serve. Unfortunately where I teach in Bellville and throughout the Western Cape there underprivileged communities where inherent problems of crime, drug abuse and poor housing have an overspill effect on the school environment.
Children at our school come from these poor communities. They live in shacks, RDP houses and are also backyard dwellers. They live in very poor conditions.
Definition of Socio-economic tendencies
It is the composition and social development of a target group. It is also the economic system, the economic activities and the financial position of the target group.
Circumstance of the community in which my school is situated.
1. Poor Nutrition
Impoverish families are not able to provide the correct nutrition for their children's formative months or years. This in turn prevents the child's brain from developing to its maximum potential. Added to this is the problem of Fetal Alcoholic Syndrome which is widespread in poorer communities of the Western Cape and Northern Cape. Because of the damage caused by this problem the children affected will never achieve academic success.
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2. Uneducated Parents
A large number of children born to parents in disadvantage areas are themselves uneducated and therefore don't pass on to their offspring a culture of learning. Intended
or otherwise they don't act as role models where schooling is concerned. I experience that the assignments that children do at home are not up to standard, because there is not
someone that is equipped to help them with it. Some of the parents are also illiterate. They are dropouts themselves.
3. Overcrowded housing
Overcrowded housing denies the learners a suitable environment for private study (homework, assignments and projects). Often coming from large families, it's difficult to find a quiet space in the house away from the sibling's noises, television, stereos, etc. The neighborhood also is very noisy and the children also have to escape from the noise level of their neighbors. The reason being that the houses are built so near to each other (RDP housing).
4. Lack of basic healthcare facilities
In the area the nearest clinic and doctor are in Delft and Bellville. Parents must often stand in long queues from early morning to attend these clinics with their children. The parents normally have to make use of public transport to go to these facilities. Most of these parents are unemployed or get a social grand. They can't even afford these means of transport.
5. Limited finances
Due to their parents poor wages or worse still unemployment, there are insufficient funds for educational needs. Often parents can't afford to purchase the necessary basics i.e. stationary, let alone school fees. This problem is further exasperated by schools requiring projects to be completed making use of IT facilities and public libraries for research and presentation. These children do not have IT facilities at home neither can they afford fares to their local library or IT centers in their township. The social problems in the area of their residents revolving around gangs, crime, drugs and alcohol, prostitution and begging.
As many of the children come from dysfunctional families with poor structures and discipline, they are prone to get involved with gangs which are common in disadvantaged areas. The gangs often become a replacement for their families and children therefore do all in their control to be accepted by these gangs. Ultimately, this leads to getting involved in unlawful and immoral acts. Examples of this are violent crime, drugs, alcohol abuse and prostitution. One's academic abilities will have a negative effect under these circumstances. Gangs have persistently grown in the face of police's incapacity to come
to terms with the political changes that took place in the country. Residents of communities are victimized because of where they live. Given a situation where people are easily labeled, this age-old problem affects families as well as whole communities.
Whole communities or sections of towns or cities live in fear of gangsters. Gangs gained more and more power in communities and they began spreading. Gangs manipulate their illicit activities, which include prostitution, drug dealing and shebeens from their own turf. Many young girls are coerced or forced into prostitution by gangs who sometimes drag them from their homes in sight of their helpless families. Protection money is paid to the local gangs from whoever makes business in the community. The political segregation among the community plays a major role in motivational and casual factors that keep people involved in gang activities.
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Legislation alone will not be able to deal with the problems of gangs. A holistic approach, socio-economic development and crime prevention programmes that incorporates rehabilitation for those wish to turn from gang activities will also help.
The effect this all have on our school
It is known for children either as individuals or groups to allow their home or social problems to overspill into the school environment which has a disruptive effect on the school. Various gang grievances are sorted out on schools grounds. Normally there are fights over girls and gang turfs or turf issues.
Lack of discipline
Regardless of what the curriculum hold on to, discipline is one of the fundamentals of learning. Initially it entails enforced discipline, there after as learners mature, self - discipline becomes more into play. Unfortunately discipline is not only lacking in society, but also in the school system. This is due to a number of factors i.e. departmental policies, parent attitudes and society in general.
Lack of adequate facilities
We live in a technological age in which being computer literate is essential in order to achieve success. However, many of the schools including my school have insufficient or no IT facilities. This results to learners not having computer skills when leaving school for further education and training. They are so behind to the other learners that do have IT facilities at their schools.
Lack of sporting facilities
It's a known fact that learners who are involved in sport are less likely to get involve in negative and anti-social behavior. School-sponsored sport helps to keep children off the streets. This actively involvement in sport promotes healthy living, teamwork and gives them direction.
Drinking problems of parents
Bad drinking habits of parents results normally in producing babies who suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. These children have learning disabilities, developmental delays, behavior problems i.e. obstinacy and poor daily living skills. They also have a poor attention span. They suffer from cerebral retardation, uncertainty under pressure, poor conceptual skills and slower cognitive processing. They have poor judgment, suffer from information processing disorder, and poor case and effect reasoning. They are also incompatible at linking words to actions and also have poor simplification ability.
They grasp just parts or not whole concepts and have poor short-term memory. With their learning disabilities it is difficult for teachers to cope with these learners in their classrooms. The teachers lack training in dealing with these learners. We at the school don't have the necessary skills to deal with these learners and they normally don't get the proper education.
Parents neglect in their duties to take their children to clinics which is also a problem to the school. Children normally come with old wounds and some learners have poor vision and suffer to cope. As a result the learners can't copy their work correctly from the writing board as they reading problems.
Besides their basic education, learners lack or have little knowledge of social etiquette for example shack dwellers that still use the bucket system. Some learners need to be taught how to use a flush toilet.
Some of our learners come from the Eastern and Northern Cape to attend school here in Bellville. They stay with relatives that are unemployed. These children often return home for vacations which can be disruptive as they often leave before the term is over and return after the new term begins. As a result of this they loose out on a lot of schoolwork.
The mentioned problems are so endemic in underprivileged areas that most of the children suffer to some extend from the mentioned negative factors. Therefore it's difficult for children to form peer groups of quality. On the rare occasions when individuals of quality managed to break the mold and become successful, they don't become role models because they are lost to the community because they move to more affluent areas. The socio-economic situation has an impact on us as educator's profession and conditions in the classroom. These factors can also affect the level of job satisfaction among teachers. Studies on job satisfaction attrition have found that the demands of the
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education system and society, among other factors have led to reduced levels of satisfaction amongst educators. (Benham Tye & O' Brien:2002)
Some South African studies (Mwamenda:1995, Steyn & van Wyk:1999) have cited poor working conditions i.e. heavy workload, dilapidated facilities, inadequate supply or resources and lack of job security as other influences on job satisfaction level. Socio-economic factors can impact greatly on the attention, ability and discipline of students.
As a result of the previously mention problems (limited finances, limited healthcare, overcrowded housing, uneducated parents and poor nutrition) some of my school's learners result to absenteeism (often go begging on the street or pursue criminal acts) or worse still dropping out completely.
Economical conditions that is related to the socio-economics of a community
Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. One of the uses of economics is to explain how economies, as economic systems, work and what the relations are between economic players (agents) in the larger society. Be that as it may, in the community where I teach, there are no income in some of the households or just social grant money that has to feed sometimes a large family.
Poverty often restricts these children to spent most to their time in their immediate area of residents because of the lack of finances many of them for example have not had the opportunity of traveling, be it to Cape Town, the beach or surrounding areas. Their views of the world and how it relates to them is formed from TV- programmes and their depressing surroundings. This in turn can result in them not fully appreciating the benefits of a sound education. Children lose trust and faith in the system when on a daily basis they see immediate family members and the community at large are unemployed for long periods and often permanently. Our learners are negatively influence by these facts. They think that attending school is useless and therefore turn to crime.
Evaluation, recommendations and comments
The large social issues such as unemployment, crime, poor housing and medical issues can only be addressed at government level, however this does not mean that important contributions cannot be made at ground level. These issues can be subdivided into:
Factors outside the confine of the school but within the community.
Factors within the school confines.
Unless the parents can be brought onboard with regards to their children's discipline, behavior and attitude towards learning them, little process is fusible. Basically the parents are the child's immediate role models. To achieve the above mentioned it is necessary to have parent meetings to educate the parents on how they can best support the school in order for their children to be well prepared for the outside world. Parents should also be
encouraged to actively support the school either by membership on the governing body or where they have a skill i.e. tradesmen helping out in a practical manner.
Community bodies such as religious and sporting groups, welfare and the police should be consulted and recruited into a combine team who will look out for and assist the school in its objectives. NGO's and local company's assistance should be sought after with regard to assisting the schools. We as school are planning to open up our rugby field after hours for clubs to practice on. The reason for that is to get children off the streets and away from activities that they not suppose to do. Until the department of education, government, parents and children except and understand the need for discipline, our learners will never reach their full potential and our schools will always be found wanting. Without the necessary skills and equipment (e.g. IT facilities) learners will be insufficient prepared for a world that is daily growing more complex.
Pride in your school
Children's attitude towards the school often reflects their attitude towards learning. With this in mind it's essential to develop a sense of pride in the school and what it represents. To achieve these extra mural activities such as sporting team's chess clubs, etc. should be encouraged and competitions arranged with other schools in order to foster team spirit.
Some of the major negative factors which hinder schooling in underprivileged areas namely poor and overcrowding housing, crime, medical and welfare facilities can only be addressed by government. None the less some important contributions can be made by the local community and the individual schools. If the problems in education are not address as a matter of urgency there will be catastrophic consequences not only for the individual leaner but also for the nation as a whole.
Lacking education, students will be condemned to a life of menial jobs or worse still unemployment. The consequences of this are they will never break cycle of poverty which in turn will be inherited by their offspring.
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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome-Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia
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Kinnes, Irvin, The Future, Gangs and Society, Published in Monograph No.48 Western Cape. June 2000
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Steyn H.J, Steyn S.C, De Waal E.A.S, Wolhuter C.C. 2002. The Education System: Structure and issues. Noordbrug Keurkopie
Steyn H.J, Wolhuter C.C. 2008. The Education System, Challenges of the 21st Century. Noordbrug Keurkopie Publishers
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