The impact of inclusive education on the quality of teaching and learning in the foundation phase : an educator's perspective
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The study has been influenced by the experience of the researcher in inclusive education. In inclusive education, the educator is required to respond to the diverse individual needs of the learners. Since 1994, the education system has been continually changing, resulting in challenges. A number of policy documents have been published which provide scope for transformation and restructuring in education. The policy on inclusive education has resulted in major challenges in the classroom. This inclusive education policy document states that learners who experience barriers to learning should be accommodated in the mainstream school. The aim of this study was to evaluate the challenges of inclusive education in a mainstream school on the quality of teaching and learning. Primary data was collected for this study using a survey method. A questionnaire consisting of thirty items was used to gather the needed information from all foundation phase educators from fourteen selected schools in the eThekwini region of KwaZulu-Natal province. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistical techniques. Conclusions and recommendations were thereafter drawn from the literature and the findings of the study. The study shows that the general knowledge of the respondents about inclusive education and barriers to learning are somewhat narrow. Most of the respondents have a negative attitude towards inclusive education, which can be attributed to lack of skills and the fact that inclusive education is still in its infancy stage in South Africa. It can be inferred that many of the schools are under-resourced and the implementation of inclusive education would be difficult under these conditions. The success of inclusive education is dependent on quality teacher education and training. A substantial effort is required to successfully implement the paradigm shift towards inclusive education and change the attitude of educators.