Developmental Experiences of OVC in Child-Headed Households and the Impact on Cognition and Learning


  • Mncedisi C. Maphalala University of South Africa, College of Education, Department of Curriculum & Instructional Studies,
  • Emily Ganga Department of Educational Foundations, Faculty of Education, Great Zimbabwe University


In this phenomenological descriptive case study the researchers investigated the ecological encounters of orphaned and vulnerable Children (OVC) in child-headed households (CHHs) and the impact on cognition and learning. The qualitative enquiry is based on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. The triangulated data was collected through participant observations, open-ended questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions. The purposefully selected participants comprised 20 double orphans and vulnerable children, four headmasters, eight teachers, one education officer and one social welfare officer, comprising a total sample of 34. Tesch’s qualitative model of data analysis was used to group the findings into themes, each differentiating into sub-categories. The findings revealed most OVC to suffer from loneliness, feelings of inferiority, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of concentration in class and heightened negativity that militates against effective assimilation and accommodation of learning materials within their ecological environment. The situation was exacerbated by poverty, need deprivation and overwhelming household and parenting responsibilities. As such, most of the children’s voiced responses expressed great despondence. Orphanhood was found to be a psychological deterrent to cognition and learning. The local community, education administrators, policy makers, children’s rights advocates together with the children’s representatives need to map out life-lines to promote the cognitive learning of double OVC residing in CHHs.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n3p312


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How to Cite

Developmental Experiences of OVC in Child-Headed Households and the Impact on Cognition and Learning. (2014). Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(3), 312.