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Children from child-headed households will fail without special attention

14 March 2014, 09:04

Research by Walter Sisulu University doctoral student Newlin Marongwe reveals that the challenges children from Child Headed Households (CHH) in the Eastern Cape face could contribute to their poor academic performance.

Her case study in progress on child headed households explores the challenges encountered by learners with adult responsibilities, children under 18 who are forced to take responsibility for them and their siblings following the death of their parents as a result of HIV/Aids.

“HIV and Aids continue to cause havoc all over the world, affecting all communities. Because of this, adults die and leave their children to take responsibility for their families, taking on adult roles before they have matured,” said Marongwe.

She highlighted the potential the study has to play a catalytic role in improving the living conditions and academic progress of these learners in the Eastern Cape.

“This study wanted to understand the challenges, impediments and oppressive forces facing CHHs, and to uncover factors which may hinder these children from pursuing education,” she added.

The research also looked at other issues, like over-populated orphanages, the increase in CHHs as noted by schools, frustration for educators having to deal with absent learners, and learners’ poor academic results.

Morangwe said learners are being enslaved, and “can only be liberated by researchers and educators”.

The lack of parental love, lack of supervision, direction and guidance, role change responsibilities, Teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, self-esteem, rape, food insecurity and poverty are a few of the challenges facing children in CHHs.

“CHH learners face a myriad of challenges at both school and at home. They shoulder heavy responsibilities while still young, which weakens their bodies and minds, leading to poor academic performance,” Marongwe added.

She said the research also highlighted the lack of training for teachers to be able to deal properly with CHH learners, as well as a lack of attention paid to these learners at school.

Concluding, Marongwe said more needs to be done for learners from CHHs.

“We shouldn’t make the same mistake as in the case of the HIV/Aids pandemic and let the situation further deteriorate, hoping it will just go away,” said Marongwe.

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