Challenges of Inclusive Education in South Africa: Voices of Teachers
The new democratic dispensation in South Africa since 1994 demanded drastic reform in education. A new unified, non-racial and democratic education system was established to correct the imbalances of the past. New education policies provided a framework for inclusive education. This implies that learners experiencing barriers to learning should, whenever possible and with suitable support, be educated with others in a mainstream school setting and through a regular curriculum. It promotes equal participation and non-discrimination against all learners in the learning process. Education has to be relevant and meaningful to all learners, irrespective of their diversity in terms of their language, culture, religion, needs and ability. The policy of inclusion embraces the fact that classroom teachers will be the primary resource for achieving the goal of an inclusive education system. However, the challenge facing many teachers in South Africa is that they have not been adequately trained to cope with the diversity of needs in their classes. The provision of equal opportunities for learners experiencing barriers to learning means that traditional roles and responsibilities of teachers will inevitably change. The primary goal of the research therefore was to find an answer on the following research question: What are the experiences, perceptions and needs of teachers currently in the system regarding inclusive education? A qualitative research approach was followed to collect the data. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed to identify two emerging main themes. The paper gives an account of the findings of the investigation.
Keywords: Inclusive Education, Experiences, Perceptions, Needs of Teachers, South Africa
Prof. Tilla Olivier
Professor, Faculty of Education Research Technology and Innovation Unit, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Evelyn Elizabeth Williams
Teacher, -, -