Original Research

Evaluating a grief programme offered in primary schools: An Appreciative Inquiry

Jacqueline Horn, Sumeshni Govender
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a726 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.726 | © 2019 Jacqueline Horn, Sumeshni Govender | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 November 2018 | Published: 10 September 2019

About the author(s)

Jacqueline Horn, Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa
Sumeshni Govender, Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa

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Background: Death and loss are inevitable, and life changes profoundly for those left behind. A General Household Survey by Statistics South Africa indicated that 94.2% of orphans aged 7–18 years were still attending school. With no parental and often familial support, learners often had to turn to their teachers for support. Vukuzakhe, a non-governmental organisation, saw the need for a grief programme in schools.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate how the school-based grief programme is perceived by different stakeholders (grieving children, educators and programme facilitators).

Setting: The grief programme is being implemented in four primary schools in Underberg and Himeville, rural KwaZulu-Natal, and this study will conduct an evaluation at all four sites.

Methods: Appreciative Inquiry, based on a four-dimensional cycle, was used to evaluate a grief programme offered in selected primary schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Three stakeholder groups (grief support programme facilitators [n = 4], grieving children [n = 6] and educators [n = 2]) from four schools were asked three open-ended questions to ascertain the programme’s value.

Results: Nine key themes were identified: healing, insight, relationships, growth, skills, support, enjoyment, collaboration and value of the programme. All stakeholders noted positive outcomes resulting from participation in the programme and held it in high regard.

Conclusion: Improvements for its future development were suggested and recommendations made for its further implementation at schools throughout South Africa.


grief; bereavement; programme evaluation; Appreciative Inquiry; learner intervention


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