The management of inclusive education in the four selected junior primary schools in the Empangeni district, KwaZulu-Natal
Majola, Happy Maureen
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This study investigated the management of inclusive education in the four selected junior primary schools in the Empangeni District, KwaZulu-Natal. Despite the fact that the White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education and Training: Building Inclusive Education and Training System was released in 2001, aiming at providing quality education for all learners, the implementation and management of inclusive education in schools still remain a challenge. This research, therefore, investigated possible challenges and suggested solutions that could be used for the effective implementation and management of inclusive education in schools. This study was conducted to answer the following questions: i. What are the challenges at school level that delay the implementation of inclusive education? ii. What skills do teachers and principals have or acquired in order to identify and support learners who experience barriers to learning and development? iii. What are the teachers’ perceptions regarding the inclusion of learners who experience barriers to learning and development? iv. Does our education system provide teachers with relevant training to meet the challenges that come with inclusive education? An ethnographic research was conducted in four junior primary schools at the Empangeni District, KwaZulu- Natal to find out what happens in their school setting. Fifteen foundation phase teachers from four junior primary schools, four principals and six final year university student teachers participated in the study. The findings of data collected from teachers, principals and student teachers regarding their views on inclusion of learners who experience barriers to learning were used to make recommendations. The findings from the study revealed the need for schools to effectively implement the White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education and Training: Building Inclusive Education and Training System (2001). Inclusion of learners who experience barriers to learning and development is an international initiative, which aims to provide quality education for all learners. The success of inclusion is based on the adoption and implementation of the international, national and provincial inclusive education policies, declarations and guidelines. In this study, it became evident that there is a shortage of teachers who have specialization in Special Education: Barriers to Learning. In- service teacher training and special education element should be included in all courses of initial teacher training. Ongoing professional development of teachers on inclusive education issues is also crucial. Teachers need to be provided with necessary skills to identify developmental delays and barriers to learning early. This study highlighted the importance of the establishment of the functional support structures, Institutional Level Support Team and District Based Support Team so that inclusive education is effectively managed in the education system. Provision of skills that will assist teachers to provide relevant support to learners who experience barriers to learning, lies on the existence of the support structures. The findings also revealed that schools or any other stakeholder cannot address barriers to learning in isolation. Linkages with Tertiary Institutions, Department of Health, Department of Social Development, Non-Governmental Organizations, parents/ caregivers and teacher unions need to be prioritized, in order to ensure that diverse needs of learners are met and barriers to learning and development are addressed. The positive response from the National Department of Education to the international initiatives for promoting single inclusive education system that is responsive to the diverse needs of all learners, resulted to the release of the White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education and Training: Building Inclusive Education and Training System in 2001. The need to close the gap between theory outlined in all the policies and guidelines that promote inclusive education and practice becomes evident in this study. The management of inclusive education in schools, therefore requires the School Management Team to facilitate, amongst other things, human resource development and establishment of the Institutional Level Support Team.