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Teacher and learner perceptions of the relationship between gang activity and learner academic performance in township schools
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This study examines the nature and the extent of school gang activity and how it impacts on learner academic performance in South African township schools. The research evidence shows that learners in South Africa have been exposed to widespread school gang activity leading to poor learner academic performance in the township schools. The effects of the phenomenon of school gang activity on learner academic performance are given a more insightful understanding of its effects. The literature review supports the central argument that school gang activity persists in South African schools, especially in the townships. In addition, the literature provides both international and local perspectives of the high prevalence of school gang activity and claims that it results in an insecure teaching and learning environment. The specific research design selected for the study is a phenomenological study and is qualitative, explorative and descriptive in nature. A semi-structured interview method was employed to gather the data required. The findings of the study reveal that many learners in the township schools experience direct incidences of school gang activity either at school or on the way to or from school. In addition, the findings reveal that feelings of insecurity are most intense in the classroom situation because the opportunities to escape danger are minimal. The conclusions drawn from the study are that classrooms are dangerous places and this impacts on the ability of learners to achieve academically. Based on the findings, this mini-dissertation recommends collaborative efforts of all role-players to interact and produce amicable strategies and solutions that will decrease the occurrence of school gang activities and school violence. Gang activity in schools severely hinders learner academic performance. Hence incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives, involving activities such as teamwork and programme development can provide some solutions. This mini-dissertation is dedicated to my little angel, Avuyile Boqwana, in memory of the day she was born. I said that day, "A professor is born in my house," trusting that my wishes will be fulfilled one day. As young as she is, she is the source of all my inspirations to pursue life-long learning. My little is a source of motivation every time I look at her. She is my hope for the future. It was her enduring love when she always missed her bedtimes waiting for me to come back from my late tiring sessions that provided "the wind beneath my wings" to complete this educational journey.