PhD Education graduate investigates moral development of HIV/AIDS orphans

Posted on September 06, 2013

He has worked as a teacher in different schools over a period of 20 years and is currently the principal at Vuk’uzenzele Primary School in Rustenburg.

HIV/ AIDS is a major cause in the growing number of orphans, child headed households and disintegration of families in South Africa, leading to the orphans’ increased moral, social and educational vulnerability. Mr Sekopane’s study was conducted according to a qualitative research approach guided by interpretivistic epistemology, with the primary source of information being the experiences of adolescents living in child headed households. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory and Kohlberg’s theory of moral development were employed to gather data and guide the study.

The findings of the study reveal that adolescents in child headed households suffer from abject poverty, caused by the death of their parents by HIV/AIDS. These adolescents have to fend for themselves and make their own decisions without the guidance of an adult guardian or parents. The research revealed that moral reasoning in adolescents in child headed households is mainly influenced by poverty, lack of support, the need to survive, and interaction with peers and the community. The literature and empirical data prove that support – or lack thereof – experienced by the participants has a significant influence on orphaned adolescents’ moral development. In some instances their dire circumstances force them to act wrongly, irresponsibly and irrationally.

Based on the findings and conclusions of the study, specific recommendations were drawn up that could prove useful to the Departments of Basic Education; Health, Social Development and Home Affairs – or other government departments, schools, non-governmental organisations and researchers. The study also offers measures to support and improve the moral development of orphaned adolescents in child headed households.

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