Caring relationships between teachers and vulnerble learners in the context of HIV and AIDS: a study in quintile 1 schools in rural South Africa

Vorster, Carien
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This study explores the nature of caring relationships between teachers and vulnerable learners in the context of HIV and AIDS. Two learners who were orphaned and affected by HIV and AIDS, and a teacher were interviewed at each of two high schools. The interviews with the learners focused on their needs and the social institutions that they looked to for support, while the interviews with the teachers centered on their view of learners’ needs and on ways in which they supported the learners. The needs of learners are interpreted against the background of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, and the way that caring relationships between teachers and learners function are described using Noddings’ theory of care. The study found that vulnerable learners do look to the school for care and support, and that the best level of care is received by engaging in a reciprocal caring relationship with a sympathetic teacher. The research report shows that the needs of vulnerable learners that cause barriers to learning can be alleviated by the attention and empathetic actions of their teachers, and that these learners are being educated in the process to become caring individuals. In the context of the Department of Basic Education’s Care and Support for Teaching and Learning initiative, this study shows that existing grassroots practices are effective and offer an opportunity to build a network of care from the bottom up. KEY WORDS Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), HIV and AIDS, Erikson, psychosocial development and support, Noddings, care, caring relationship, Care and Support for Teaching and Learning initiative (CSTL).
A research report submitted to the Wits School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education by combination of coursework and research. Johannesburg, 2014