TITLE: LEARNERS’ HABITUAL ABSENCE FROM SCHOOL
Absenteeism is the practice of habitually staying away from work or school without a good reason. Student absenteeism is a severe problem in public education. Resolute efforts have been used aimed at engaging students and promoting active learning, but schools are still full of “clock-watchers” Many high schoolers habitually skip classes and, according to some inside reports, “the halls are almost empty some Friday afternoons.” (Paul, W. Bennett, 2010) Attendance is an significant factor in school achievement among children and youth. Analyses show that better attendance is associated to greater academic achievement for learners of all backgrounds, but mainly for children with lower socioeconomic status. Starting in kindergarten, learners who attend school on regular basis/habitually obtain greater on assessments than their peers who are frequently absent (Childtrends, 2015). Critical Theory is a school of thought that stresses the philosophical assessment and criticism of the people and culture by applying understanding from the social sciences and the humanities. As a term, Critical Theory has two implications with different back ground and histories: the earliest originated in sociology and the following originated in literary criticism (Horkheimer, 2017). Critical rationalism is the method of inquiry in philosophy that encourages questioning, it encourages open-mindedness (Higgs, P. Smith, J., 2015). In this essay, the solution to addressing the new phenomenon of learners habitually staying away from school on a daily basis will be provided by critical rationalism in contrast with critical theory. This essay will answer the following questions: what are the causes of learner absenteeism and how can they be solved.
2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.1 Critical rationalism
(Higgs, P. Smith, J., 2015), Argues that critical rationalism is anti-dogmatic and anti-authoritarian. It is totally against societies where people cannot express their minds freely and discuss things cooperatively. In critical rationalism it is understood that people should inquire what is communicated with them and they should wisely examine their own ideas, it is also understood that human beings can solve their problems by thinking clearly and discussing everything openly.
2.2 Causes and critical rationalism apllication
Factors that contribute to absenteeism include a lack of guidance from parents, inadequate support for children’s learning, poor parenting skills, a lack of home discipline, no support when doing homework, and poverty (no uniform or food). Critical rationalism challenges exisiting ideas and beliefs by questioning them and it is believed that most learners are oftenly absent from school because they could not come to school on empty stomachs. Since we live in a democratic world, there was an establishment of feeding schemes/programmes by teachers with the help of the societies and the SGBs, where children are given food at school during lunch time, so there is no learner who misses school because hunger. The schools also provides food pacels/packages to the needy. Provide direct services to learners which pleases parents (e.g., selling school uniforms at a much lower price to learners; giving free uniforms to orphans and vulnerable children; and providing free lunches to orphans and vulnerable children) (Mahunyela, 2008).
2.2 Critical theory
According to (Higgs, P. Smith, J., 2015), Critical theory is the method of inquiry in philosophy that radically questions existing social, political and economic systems. Critical theorists believe that all forms of power are oppressive, modern theorists believe that the cause of our power or powerlessness is the way we see things. In that case critical theory could be useful in solving inadequate support for children’s learning as a factor of learner absenteeism, because it helps in identifying those who have power and those who do not, the identification of weaknesses in the existing power relations so we can define personal power and weakness.
2.3 Cause and critical theory application
Critical Theory criticises traditional parental contribution and claims that schools have a habit of maintainining the beliefs of a capitalist culture, positioning the space, capital, resources and cultures of unfortunate families as inferior (Creswell, 2003). The assumption of the capitalist culture about parental support regards parents from rural backgrounds and poor families as lacking the knowledge, skills and network of resources to know how to go into the types of discussions and activities that makes a change in the educational growth of their children (Lee ; Bowen, 2006; Hammond, 2001). Critical Theory challenges beliefs that duplicate cruel thoughts (Henning, Van Rensberg ; Smit, 2004). This cruelty remains if underprivileged people accept their social status as natural, inevitable and unbreakable (Briton, 1996).
In conclusion, teachers need to be supportive to vulnerable learners. It is in the nature of the critical frame to lead us down such pathways. The aim was to use critical interrogation to forge new understanding capable of informing changed oriented action, therefore ,from the above discussion it is clear that critical rationalism and critical theory are an effective ways/methods in finding truths and solving problems in general.