NHL – Providing solutions for low scholastic advance

NHL - GroupAn outcome based Research Project: Identifying the local circumstances and providing solutions to overcome the barriers which result in the high level of low scholastic advance in 100 learners in Grades R to 9 in Melkhoutfontein, Stilbaai

Final year education graduates at the NHL Hogeschool – Faculty Pedagogics, The Netherlands Marijke De Vreeze and Marjjolein Binnema worked with Dreamcatcher and stayed in the community of Melkhoutfontein for a protracted period during the first to second term of 2013 to conduct the above research project.

Dreamcatcher works closely with the principal and teachers at the local Primary to Middle school in Melkhoutfontein, Stilbaai. We have been concerned about the lack of advance of a significant number of learners who are all from low to dire economic historically disadvantaged families in the community. Besides the given problem of living in the poverty trap it was clear that a few children to actualize themselves and rise above living in recurring poverty, to reach higher levels of education and significantly, work and future prospects. It was important to find and identify phenomena, which impact on future quality of life of the family and that of the wider community of Melkhoutfontein. This included unemployment and lack of future prospects for self-improvement. Working with the 2 final year students and their promoter at the NHL Hoogeschool University in The Netherlands and the school, a research project was developed which not only offered findings but also solutions with potential to address the problem. In short: research that offers practical outcomes with the potential to lead to implementable activities.

Research included face-to-face interviews, workshops and ‘think tanks” with teachers, parents, opinion leaders and most importantly, learners, to find the barriers which both teachers and parents could address to make a difference. Of significance was also to research what were the barriers to parents to support their children after school and support and involvement with teachers at the school, since this problem was flagged up as one of significant importance to low scholastic achievement. Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected and analyses to reach conclusions which were provided to the school, parents and Dreamcatcher and which have been invaluable to guide future development projects both in school and at Dreamcatcher.

For insight into the impressions and experiences whilst living in the community, follow their story of “Life with Dreamcatcher” on the volunteer section.

Sylvia Schoute
Department of Pedagogics
NHL Hogeschool University