Rural schools, poverty and resilience in education: A South African perspective illustrating how relationships can create supportive schools

Year: 2012

Author: Ebersöhn, Liesel

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


In a long-term collaborative study, South African teachers and researchers partner to investigate how resilience can be promoted in schools with resource constraints and high need. While similarities existed in how schools addressed poverty-related challenges, rural schools took longer and had more challenges in creating and sustaining supportive school climates. The paper uses a rurality lens to examine how forces, agencies and resources act, move, pull and push when poverty as adversity is centred in education deliberations. Time, space and place were relevant forces complicating resilience initiatives in rural schools burdened with poverty.

Data document how re-configuring place and agency in the rural context to foreground extended relationships between teachers, families and community elders enabled educational opportunity and supported resilience. This resilience model in rural contexts offers insights for addressing the special challenges of education in poor rural communities where traditional social networks and indigenous knowledge and belief systems remain.