Managing Schools with Migrant Learners: A Daunting Challenge for Rural School Principals at the Northern Outskirts of South Africa (Published)
The influx of undocumented and unaccompanied migrant learners in the rural schools of the District of Vhembe in Limpopo Province of South Africa is alarming. These learners come to South Africa with unique challenges. They are affected by socio-economic factors. They do not have identification documents. They are dogged by language barriers and are often victims of xenophobic attitudes. Their inclusion in the school system brings about new challenges to the school management teams. The study argues that effective management of school is a necessary pre-condition for addressing the educational predicament of migrant learners. As such, principals have the responsibility to manage their schools effectively and efficiently. A qualitative research was conducted at Tshipise-Sagole district to determine the extent to which principals address the educational challenges of migrant learners. Six schools with a significant number of migrant learners were purposefully selected. Data were collected through individual interviews with 6 school principals. Data were analysed thematically. The study revealed that managing schools with migrant learners remains a daunting challenge to principals. It is also revealed that principals as custodians of migrant learners play a vital role in addressing these difficulties. The study recommended that school principals should profile migrant learners’ needs and barriers in order to address them amicably and provide necessary support. Government support and involvement of various stakeholders are cited as very important aspects as this should be a shared responsibility.