A.P. Amushigamo, C. Smith

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
Theories of human needs satisfaction hold that meeting individual needs for belonging, achievement and recognition, and influence is closely associated with organisation members’ behaviour. This study explored role-players’ perceptions of students’ human needs satisfaction and its influence on their behaviour at a Namibian secondary school.

Since the abolition of corporal punishment, student behaviour in Namibian secondary schools has been considered to be a serious challenge to effective schooling. This study was conducted in a secondary school renowned for its positive student behaviour.

In order to explore role-players’ perceptions an interpretive case study design was adopted. The selected school is located in a peri-urban area in the north of the country. Focus group interviews were held with students and teachers respectively and an in-depth interview was conducted with the school principal. Participant observation was also conducted for two weeks. Narrative data analysis procedures were followed.

The findings indicate that the school’s culture and leadership are strongly directed at meeting student needs for belonging, achievement and recognition, and influence. Students feel accepted as valued members of the school community. There are numerous opportunities for students to experience success and praise. There is a culture of appreciation rather than one of blame and fault-finding. In addition, students are encouraged to participate in meaningful decision-making structures such as the Learner Representative Council. All the role-players belief that the meeting of these human needs is closely associated with the students’ positive behaviour.

This case study provides evidence of how a school that purposefully seeks to satisfy students’ individual needs for affiliation, success and influence can positively influence student behaviour. As such, the case school provides an exemplar of what is possible in secondary schools in a developing African country.