An exploration of how single parenting in a disadvantaged community influences a learner’s decision to enrol at a higher education institution
Family structure is related to educational attainment; it is evident that individuals from two- parent homes complete on average more years of schooling and are more likely to graduate from high school, attend University and complete University as compared to peers raised in single-parent families. Parental characteristics such as educational level, income and parents, aspirations for their children are variables said to influence schooling outcomes of South African learners. Children from disadvantaged families are less likely to graduate from high school and attend an institution of higher learning. The aim of this study was to explore and describe how single parenting in a disadvantaged community influences a learner's decision to enrol at a higher education institution. An explorative and descriptive research design grounded in a qualitative research approach was utilised. Research participants were purposively selected from two senior secondary schools in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Three sets of data, namely (a) grade 12 learners raised by single parents (b) parents of these learners, and (c) principals and grade 12 Life Orientation teachers were collected for greater insight of this situation. Semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and field notes were used to collect the data. Tech's eight steps of data analysis were used. Ethical considerations such as confidentiality, voluntary participation, and informed consent from learners, parents, teachers and informed assent from learners younger than 18 years of age were adhered to. The greatest influences to enrolling into a higher education institution and the type of institution were family structure and the learner's socio-economic status. Learners feel responsible for taking care of their parents and siblings; therefore feel obligated to work after high school. Those that have the desire to study further are concerned about how they will finance their studies. The Department of Education (DoE) needs to conduct a needs assessment and provide schools with the resources they need. This includes teachers and administrative staff. The resources schools have influence school outcomes. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to do an analysis of what the barriers to enrolling into university and college are at the various schools. When they have identified these barriers they need to tailor-make their information sessions with high school learners so that they have all the necessary information before they assume enrolling at higher education institutions is inconceivable. Schools need to provide the necessary information about university and college; including available funding to learners and their parents from earlier grades. This will be of use to those who genuinely want to study further but are concerned about finances.