Exploring adolescents' participation in decision-making in the home schooling context
Van der Merwe, Elizabeth Aloise
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Children’s rights to participate in decision-making in matters which impact them directly, is a topic leading to increased research since the 1990s. Today, most countries, including South Africa, have included the right of children to participate and to be heard, in their legislation. In reality, however, there is still a big gap in the implementation of children’s right to participation. Home schooling as an alternative to mainstream schooling has also gained momentum in South Africa with an estimated 50 000 – 75 000 children being home schooled. When children are home schooled, the families spend more time together than children who spend 6-8 hours per day attending a local school. Decisions with regard to curriculum, subjects and social interaction which would normally be the responsibility of the school, now become the responsibility of the parents. Children in the adolescent life phase have an increasing need to gain independence from their parents. In the home school context, the fact that the parents are also the teachers, could lead to increased frustration and conflict between adolescents and parents. In this context it would therefore be important that the adolescents should be allowed to participate in decisions pertaining to their schooling. This study focused on exploring adolescents’ participation in decision-making in the home schooling context. This research is important as little is known about the perceptions of adolescents and their parents about participation in the home schooling context. The research took place in the Western Cape. Eight families, which consisted of 21 participants, were involved in the study. Data saturation determined the sample size. The participants were selected from specific home schooling forums and had to reside in the Western Cape. Semi-structured interviews were held with all the participants and an interview guide was used for consistency. Different themes were identified by using thematic analysis. The study found that families have different views about the adolescents’ role in participation. It varied from adolescents who were allowed to initiate change to adolescents not allowed to participate in decisions at all. In the families where the adolescents were allowed limited or no participation in decision-making, the adolescents indicated that they understood that their parents had their best interest at heart, although they felt that they (the adolescents) would welcome a bigger say. It is recommended that home schooling families be made aware of the need of their adolescent children to be allowed to participate more in decision-making in the home schooling context on all levels, ranging from educational matters to social interaction.
- Humanities