Non-formal education in a South African township: a qualitative study of an overnight camp experience




Drummond, Russell Andrew

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This study explores the impact of an overnight camp experience for impoverished South African youth. I worked as a Youth Development Worker with the Ukulapha Community Outreach Project for six months in 2016. My research looks at one non-formal education (NFE) program in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa through the lenses of critical theory and critical pedagogy. Emancipatory learning, social justice, and empowerment were the particular themes that framed my research. I used a qualitative design including an autoethnographic element to conduct my research. The study included six in-person semi-structured interviews with camp participants, one year after the conclusion of the camp. Additionally, four students provided participant journals where they wrote about their experience at the camp. I wove into the study my own participation, observations, journaling, and a blog. Findings show that the camp provided diverse skills development for personal empowerment, a new possibility to learn with and through nature, leadership development, and important intergenerational learning. Issues of gender were also highly prevalent, however. The five recommendations for future research that come from the study include the need for a more in depth follow up study with the same and more participants, involvement of a South African researcher who can conduct interviews in isi-Zulu, a longer camp, and outreach to different aged youth and youth from other South African provinces.



Non-formal Education, Camp, Critical Theory, Qualitative Study