Guidelines for empowering secondary school educators, in loco parentis, in addressing truancy among early adolescent learners
This study examined the prevalence and the nature of truancy among early adolescent learners attending secondary schools in the Education Management and Development Centre (EMDC) in the eastern metropole of the Western Cape. The main purpose of the study was to answer the following question: How can secondary school educators, in loco parentis, be equipped with the required skills and resources in order to deal with the issue of truant behaviour among early adolescent learners? A comprehensive literature review was conducted to explore the character and extent of truancy. Thereafter, various theories of child development were highlighted, followed by a synopsis comprising different dimensions of the development of the early adolescent learner. The empirical investigation was carried out through quantitative as well as qualitative research methodology. A focus group interview was conducted with six learners, offering them an opportunity to express their perceptions and experiences as truants. Interviews were conducted with principals to obtain their impressions regarding truant behaviour. Thereafter, a questionnaire, which investigated truancy related aspects such as interaction with peers, parents and caregivers' involvement in learners' school activities, educators' influence on learners' school work and learners' self-esteem regarding their schooling, was administered to three hundred learners. The quantitative investigation revealed significant aspects about truant behaviour, indicating that predominantly more male than female learners (173 male and 26 as in the case of the present study) display this type of behaviour, truants generally originate from single parent families, and that they experience their educators and learning environments as extremely negative. Finally, two in-depth case studies were conducted on two learners, one identified as a truant and the other as a non-truant respectively. The purpose of the in-depth studies was to explore possible differences in their experiential worlds. Although the qualitative data is not generalisable, the findings of the case studies have revealed significant differences in the life worlds of the two learners. Comparatively speaking, it appears that non-truant learners are significantly better adjusted on all their functioning levels than truant learners. The results of the empirical investigation were compared with relevant findings which emerged from the literature study. Based on the present investigation, the study was concluded by offering a range of recommendations to secondary school educators, in loco parentis, empowering them in addressing the phenomenon of truancy among early adolescent learners in the Western Cape with its distinctive problems.