Teachers’ perceptions of learners who are street children: A South African case study

  • Jacob Dladla
  • Teresa Auma Ogina
Keywords: concept, learners, schooling, social construction, social constructivist theory, South Africa street children, teachers


Children living in the streets are a global phenomenon and the concept street children have multiple definitions. Yet little is known about what it means to be a street child attending school in South Africa. The focus of this paper is on how teachers conceptualise learners who are street children. Data was generated from interviewing 15 teachers from two primary schools and one secondary school with learners who are street children. The findings of the study show that teachers identify such learners by their physical appearance, their behaviour at school, the lack of care and supervision, and their portrayed living conditions. From the findings of this study, it seems that learners who are street children are conceptualised by the teachers as unable to “fit in and function” in the school environment since they cannot adjust to the norms and culture of the school. There is also need for surrogate parents to fill in the parental gap that poses challenges in the educational experiences of the learners. This creates a gap in the relationship between the learners and the teachers, which need to be addressed through policy, training and practice.

Keywords: concept; learners; schooling; social construction; social constructivist theory; South Africa street children; teachers


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100