Reducing high school dropout: towards new narratives of educational success in a rural South African educational community.
Raman, Thereza Gwendoline
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This study sought to investigate the professional experiences of educators at a rural school in South Africa, and in particular pertaining to their perceptions on learner dropout or voluntary withdrawal. Within an interpretive framework as a qualitative case study, educators were invited to offer their narrative accounts particularly about the kinds of professional development they perceived as educationally most useful for learners to succeed at school. Secondly, the study investigated the extent to which an ethos of lifelong learning could play a role in promoting successful outcomes for educators and learners, specifically in a rural educational community. The study also probed the extent to which community-school partnerships might assist in actualizing sustainable supportive environments for teaching and learning to flourish particularly in rural school contexts. Findings revealed important insights regarding the extent to which educators may understand the importance of their own professional identity and development in relation to new forms of lifelong learning as dispositions towards reducing dropout in the rural educational contexts they know. Findings also shed light on the extent to which lifelong learning within community-school partnerships and extended educational communities may play a role in reducing dropout in the rural educational contexts described in this study. The most significant finding of the study is that lifelong learning might take root in certain rural South African schools only if a body teachers is sufficiently curious about new ways of teaching and learning that directly addresses reducing dropout in the educational contexts they know.