Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


Recent surges in youth unemployment and limited access to higher education in South Africa suggests that schools are not adequately preparing learners for life after matriculation. Existing literature has addressed problems within secondary schooling as well as potential reasons for youth unemployment and limited access to higher education, however, very little work has focused on the role Life Orientation (LO) courses play in this societal crisis. In an effort to fill this gap, this study aimed to identify a disconnect between what content LO learners are receiving and what content is required to access these post-matric opportunities. This case study collected data through classroom observations and LO teacher interviews from three Cato Manor secondary schools in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), and interviews with post-matric individuals living in Cato Manor. Findings suggested that learners and teachers face several challenges in LO classes that are relevant to accessing higher education and employment. Ultimately, this study validates the experiences and challenges of LO teachers and learners in order to identify areas where the LO course can improve so that learners are adequately prepared for life after matriculation.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Higher Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services | Work, Economy and Organizations


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