Student Graduates Cum Laude with Thesis on Immigrant Learners
A Durban Teacher, Mrs Sanam Isseri, examined the school lives of high functioning immigrant learners in her research study for her master’s degree.
And Isseri’s hard work was rewarded when she graduated with a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from UKZN. She said the aim of her study was to illustrate how well the youngsters coped with circumstances.
‘Teaching learners from various social, cultural, and economic backgrounds is a daily challenge for most educators, including myself. By conducting research into the experiences and challenges of high functioning immigrant learners, I was able to better understand their perspectives in providing suitable assistance to their various needs,’ she explained.
Her study raises the concerning issue of discrimination, social exclusion, and oppression experienced by the learners from their peers and certain teachers.
‘They have taken a positive stance despite the challenges they have experienced such as language and cultural barriers, social isolation and exclusion, bullying and discrimination as well as vulnerability and emotionality in the face of xenophobia. Despite these odds, the resiliency and agency of these learners have enabled them to succeed academically as they do not view themselves as victims,’ she said.
According to Isseri, this is fostered by the resources of social capital in the learners’ lives, such as parents, family members and friends who motivate them and serve as strong role models.
The study also shows how the learners’ personal networks that build social capital tend to reduce vulnerability, build self-efficacy, self-discipline and determination in learners.
Prevailing over time constraints, Isseri managed to strike an excellent balance between work, studying and family life. ‘Setting goals and timeframes for my work and master’s research enabled me to establish a good balance. When things seemed challenging, I took one step at a time until everything fell into place.’
She is grateful to her family, friends and supervisor for their support. ‘My family and friends have been extremely supportive. They have always been very encouraging and allowed me the space and time to excel in my research.
‘Special thanks to my parents and my husband, Amir, for their faith in me and to my supervisor, Professor Anbanithi Muthukrishna.
‘I now want to take a break from studying and catch up on some quality family time. I then want to start doctoral studies and probably extend my current field of research.’