A confluence of liminality in a rural learner transitioning to boarding school in south africa

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Many rural children in South Africa are subjected to social isolation, poor quality schooling and other related challenges, which impacts their growth and development and access to post-school educational opportunities. Well-functioning boarding schools offer a solution but research in South Africa is still in its infancy. Using the theoretical frame of liminality, in a qualitative case study, the authors explore the influence of a well-functioning boarding school on the social and academic development of a socio-economically disadvantaged rural male learner. Data from interviews, observations, progress reports and open-ended questionnaires were analysed using content analysis procedures and interpreted for evidence of possible shifts, tensions, and challenges. The findings confirm that while the young man benefitted both academically and socially, the confluence of liminal spaces in his transition from a rural background to boarding school, resulted in ongoing tensions that prolonged his state of liminality. We discuss the consequences for the learner and our roles as researchers and engage with the implications for this type of research for development agents both in South Africa and internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-420
Number of pages17
JournalIssues in Educational Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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