An investigation into pre-university factors that could inhibit access to higher education for learners from low socio-economic backgrounds: the case of high school x in Khayelitsha, Cape Town
This study investigated the factors inhibiting learners from low socio- economic backgrounds from accessing higher education. The intention to investigate and identify these inhibiting factors was motivated by the growing body of evidence that suggests that there is a correlation between poverty and lack of education. The aim of the study was to investigate which pre-university factors have the most inhibiting impact on learners from low socio-economic backgrounds. The objective was to identify these factors in order to find ways in which they could be overcome and/or prevented. It was argued that, if the impact of the inhibiting factors could be minimised or eliminated, more learners would be able to access higher education successfully. The theoretical framework used in the study was based on Sen’s Capabilities approach. The list of capabilities applied to analyse the data were education and skill, economic resources, employment and working conditions, housing, and family and social integration. The study was positioned within a qualitative, interpretive research paradigm and used a case study design. The research site was a high school in Khayelitsha near Cape Town. Research participants were purposively selected and consisted of a total of twenty-nine learners from across Grade 10, 11 and 12, as well as three educators.The study used multiple sources of data instruments: secondary data (statistics and other census information about Khayelitsha), the participants’ June 2014 progress reports, a demographic information sheet, a reflective questionnaire and three focus group interviews (one per Grade).Content analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data through a three-stage open coding process. The list of inhibiting factors discussed in the literature, namely poor schooling, a lack of financial means, a lack of knowledge and information, and socio cultural factors was indeed confirmed by the data collected in this study. Other factors emerged from the data and these were regarded as new knowledge that this study contributes towards the body of knowledge. Lastly, the findings suggest that the inhibiting factor which had the greatest impact on learners from low socio-economic backgroundswas a lack of knowledge and information because this factor negatively impacted on all the capabilities listed above. Based on these findings, recommendations were proposed for the parents and community, school and educators, the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Higher Education and Training, and for higher education institutions.