Neighborhood environments that many schools in South Africa are situated in poses several challenges to educators and learners. The educational standards amongst South African schools and learners are a well-known legacy of the apartheid era government. These disparities have trickled down to manifest within different population sub-groups in a number of ways. Although schools are situated in similar geo-demographic areas, disparities do exist between these schools.Based on a qualitative approach, this study explores the possible influence of school environments and neighborhood environments on the educational aspirations within one such sub-group – the coloured population. Comparisons of influences on the educational aspirations between two groups of coloured female learners in two Mitchell´s Plain high schools are the focus of this study. Data collected through focus group discussions, observations and open-ended questionnaires provides the basis for the findings of this study. Through a purposive sampling strategy, a total of 20 grade 12 learners participated. The findings of the study were drawn from the emergence of observable patterns, which could possibly account for the differences amongst the two groups of participants and schools. The results of this study suggest that overall school culture appears to have a greater affect on students’ agency, but that aspirations are somewhat similar for both groups of students. Furthermore, it appears that neighborhood environments have little influence despite the contrary findings of previous research.
Keywords: educational aspirations, apartheid legacy, coloured, school environment, neighborhood environment