‘We are never invited’: School children using collage to envision care and support in rural schools
The voices of school children who are orphaned and vulnerable are more often than not missing from conversations about their care and support at school. In a rural ecology this is even more so the case. This article draws on a study with school children in rural KwaZulu-Natal and explores their constructions of care and support in the age of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). A qualitative approach using collage, a visual arts-based method was used with 20 school children from two rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to co-produce data with the participants, which was analysed using thematic analysis. A bio-ecological systems theory was used to frame how rural school children understand and envision care and support in a rural school context, explaining their ideas of transforming school care and support provided for vulnerable children. The findings point to the need for strengthened competencies and agency, improved collaboration and inclusion at school level, and enhanced relations and agency at community level. The findings suggest a democratising of care and support, and have implications for systemic pro-grammatic interventions and policy-making aimed at strengthening the relationships of the individual, the school and the community.
Keywords: care and support provision; collage; HIV and AIDS; intervention; rural school; school children; visual arts-based research