Despite health promotion interventions having been implemented in some low-income settings, there is very little evidence reporting on the need for school-based health promotion interventions in urban at-risk communities in South Africa. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe teachers’ perceptions of a health promotion intervention in at-risk school communities, in terms of nutritional needs, physical health needs and socio-emotional health needs. This study forms part of a broader health promotion project which aims to facilitate health and well-being in urban at-risk primary school communities, with the prime goal of social change.
Phenomenology was utilized as meta-theoretical lens and a qualitative research approach was followed. I selected Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-ecological systems theory and Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of human development as the guiding framework for this study. The existing data utilised for this study forms part of the Educational Psychology dataset of two cohorts of Grade 1 to 3 teachers’ (2016) in the broader health promotion project. A descriptive case study design was employed to purposefully select PRA data of n=17 teachers from two urban at-risk primary schools in the Pretoria area. The data set and data sources included visual data, namely; PRA-based posters, photographs and field notes.
Following a primary inductive thematic analysis, three themes and related subthemes emerged. The first theme relates to teachers’ perspectives of contextual needs that necessitate a school-based health promotion intervention. Teachers discuss needs in the educational context as well as needs in the family context that necessitate a school-based health promotion intervention. Secondly, content for a school-based health promotion based on the contextual needs was identified as a theme, indicating that teachers displayed a clear understanding of health promotion and what should be included in a health promotion intervention. The third theme highlights teachers need for pre-service and in-service health promotion training as well as teachers’ perspectives on the need for caregiver training in health promotion.
The findings of my research indicate that teachers perceive learner’s poor lifestyle habits to be a result of adversity occurring primarily in the family context. Further, the research reflects that by identifying the relevant needs of the at-risk school community, in terms of food consumption practices, physical fitness and socio-emotional behaviour, may in turn effect change in informing a school-based health promotion intervention.