Lived experiences of youth living in Sibling Headed Households in facing challenges affecting education
Mark, H.A. van der
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Background Research has found that the number of Child Headed Households (CHHs) is growing. South African government does support children under 18 as well as children living in CHHs. However there are still families who are being headed by siblings although they have turned 18 already and officially are no CHH anymore. Literature shows numerous challenges that can be faced by family members of CHHs on a daily basis. These challenges also concern their education. To succeed in schooling is important to the children living in these kinds of families because they feel like it gives them the opportunity to improve their living circumstances. It is likely that Sibling Headed Households (SHHs), families without parents with children over and under 18 years of age are facing similar challenges. Aim The aim of this study is to identify challenges youth living in SHHs are facing which are affecting their education. In order to overcome these challenges this study aims to find out on what areas more support is needed. Methodology Three in depth case studies are conducted with families headed by youth. Both the caregivers as well as the younger siblings are interviewed. The younger siblings also compiled a collage and were also individually interviewed about their collage. The information gathered by all the interviews are analysed using thematic analysis. Results The most important challenges the participants experience are the following. Although they are receiving a grant and they are beneficiaries of an NGO when under 18 years of age they report a lack of finance which is challenging their schooling. Also challenging their education is the struggle to find appropriate space and support in getting their homework done. Schools could provide for this. Teachers tend to be supportive towards the children when they know about the living circumstances their students live in which is not always the case. Classmates are very often not aware of the living circumstances. Psychological problems these children face don’t interfere with their schooling as they are most often happy being at school. This study however shows that children experience a variety of emotions like sadness and anger as a result of their living circumstances which they don’t share with family members. Conclusion More support or counselling is needed concerning the challenges that were found to be present. Schools can play a part in providing for this support.