Formative evaluation of the STAR intervention: improving teachers' ability to provide psychosocial support for vulnerable individuals in the school community

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Abstract:

The article describes the pilot phase of a participatory reflection and action (PRA) study. The longitudinal investigation explores teachers' ability to provide psychosocial support within the context of HIV/AIDS following an asset-based intervention. The study ensued from our desire to understand and contribute to knowledge about the changed roles of teachers due to adversity in the community, specifically in relation to HIV/AIDS and education. The supportive teachers, assets and resilience (STAR) intervention was facilitated from November 2003 to October 2005 and consisted of the research team undertaking nine field visits and facilitating 20 intervention sessions (2-3 hours each), and 12 post-intervention research visits have been conducted to date. Ten female teachers were selected for participation through random purposeful sampling at a primary school in an informal settlement outside Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Data-generation included PRA activities, observation, informal interactive interviews, and focus group discussions. The data were analysed by means of inductive thematic analysis. We found that the teachers did not view vulnerability as being related to children or HIV/AIDS in isolation, but rather that their psychosocial support to children and the school community was inclusive across a spectrum of vulnerabilities and services. We argue that teachers who are inclined to provide such support will fulfil this role irrespective of understanding policy or receiving training. We contend that teachers are well-positioned to manage school-based psychosocial support in order to create relevant and caring spaces for vulnerable individuals in the school community.

Keywords: South Africa; asset-based approach; capacity-building; intervention research; participatory reflection and action; psychosocial support; school children

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2989/16085906.2011.575549

Affiliations: Department of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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