The role of school engagement in strengthening resilience among male street children
Malindi, Macalane Junel
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Globally, considerable numbers of at-risk children continue to disengage from school by dropping out and adopting street life for various reasons. These children survive in environments that are devoid of resilience-promoting resources. In South Africa, non-governmental organisations accommodate street children in shelters and send them to schools. This qualitative South African study examined whether or not school engagement strengthened resilience among male school-going street children in residential care. We conducted three semi-structured focus group interviews with the street children who volunteered participation in this study. The study involved 17 street children aged between 11 and 17 years. The participants had lived on the streets for periods ranging from three months to five years. The participants were in Grades 6–11. The transcribed interviews were thematically analysed. The findings showed that school engagement strengthened resilience among the participants by promoting pro-social change, future orientation, opportunities for support, learning of basic skills and restoration of childhood. The findings show researchers, health-care and educational practitioners that through school engagement, schools can expose street children to healthy and supportive social and academic environments in order to enable them to regain their childhoods, remain in school and function resiliently. The findings therefore, reconfirmed school engagement as a powerful, multifaceted resilience-promoting resource even for children with street life experiences.