A Peer Related Factors Affecting the Provision of Psychosocial Support to Vulnerable Learners: A Case of Selected Secondary Schools in Amathole District in South Africa


Learners, Peers, Peer Led Groups, Peer Counselling, Psychosocial Support, Schools.

How to Cite

CHINYAMA, N., SIBANDA, O., CHAMISA, S., & TIRIVANGASI , H. M. (2021). A Peer Related Factors Affecting the Provision of Psychosocial Support to Vulnerable Learners: A Case of Selected Secondary Schools in Amathole District in South Africa. PRIZREN SOCIAL SCIENCE JOURNAL, 5(3), 54–68. https://doi.org/10.32936/pssj.v5i3.259


School-based peer groups have been identified as a popular and effective method   of providing health education and psychosocial support in schools. Children in developing countries as well as some of the poorest children in developing countries like South Africa face daily risks related to poverty, street crime and violence, poor health, lack or low-quality housing, inadequate and ineffective schools. These children and their families live in crisis which render them vulnerable. Thus, this study noted that there is an increase in social and emotional challenges and several risk factors for vulnerable learners globally and South Africa is not an exception. The incidence of child vulnerability and psychosocial support services have not been studied thoroughly in South Africa yet it is recognized widely that there is an increase in child stress and depression. Much of the psychosocial support services are provided by children themselves in terms of peer education groups. However, much of the research that is currently available on children relies on the reports of teachers and parents. This study learnt from literature that adults consistently underreport the effectiveness of these peer led groups in schools. Following this, the study took a qualitative approach using multiple case studies of 4 secondary schools with children as part of the participants.  Pre-coded research instruments were administered to 4 teacher coordinators, 4 peer leaders, 1 district official and 1 learner support agent supervisor. Documents were also analyzed in the form of minutes of the meetings held, learner support agents report and registers. The study found that shortage of resources such as, counselling rooms, transport, attitudes of teachers and parents towards peer led programs, lack of training and cooperation of parents still hampered the progress of peer led programs. The study therefore concluded that there were still a lot of challenges faced by vulnerable children in schools because they were not accessed by their peers due to lack of resources, training, shortage of time and negative attitudes from adults towards children’s lives attitudes from adults towards children’s lives. The study recommends that peer led groups be part of the large school curriculum with a specific budget to sustain the needs of the peer led groups. The study indicated that there were no networking opportunities amongst peer-led groups due to lack of time, yet this is very important to all successful organizations of a peer group nature. The participants also revealed that peers are better placed if they had counselling rooms, time tabled services, positive attitudes from parents and long-term  training on peer counselling.



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