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Experiences in a tutoring programme for B.Ed. foundation phase isiXhosa first language students
Carnow, Anneline Jacgueline
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Students from disadvantaged communities in South Africa enter higher education under extreme pressure due to under-preparedness when transitioning to university. While universities have succeeded in increasing the enrolment of students from the population groups that were excluded during the Apartheid dispensation, they are still struggling with throughput rates after more than two decades into the country’s new democratic dispensation. Universities’ challenges to meet throughput rates are partly ascribed to the barriers which students from educationally disadvantaged communities experience. Universities with English as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) comprise one of the barriers which students, whose home language is not English, must overcome. A University of Technology in Cape Town in the Western Cape Province of South Africa initiated a tutoring programme in the home language of isiXhosa students who enrolled for a BEd Foundation Phase qualification in its Education Faculty. Support was offered to students who failed one or more subjects in their first year of study, as well as new recruits who anticipated that they might be at risk of failing. Those who failed the subjects in the previous year stated the reasons for failure as not understanding the concepts and terms of the subjects presented to them in English. This study attempts to investigate the experiences of the tutees and tutors, as well as other role players for the duration of the tutoring programme. The research question was formulated as: "What are the experiences of role players in a tutoring programme for BEd Foundation Phase isiXhosa home language students?" Within a qualitative case study, the researcher uses semi-structured interviews and reflective journals to understand how the role players experience the tutoring programme. This study is framed within a Social Constructivist theory; while an interpretative paradigm is employed to analyse the data. The findings suggest that tutoring in their home language grants isiXhosa students access to the curriculum, for which they would otherwise have struggled to have access to. The findings explore the possibility of tutoring in the home language becoming a mandatory practice for students whose home language is not the LOLT of the institution.