Good morning principal and fellow colleagues. I have been given the task to talk to you about Inclusive education and the intrinsic and extrinsic barriers to learning and development. What is inclusive education?
In line with international trends, South African education is moving away from special education towards a policy of inclusion (i.e. Inclusion of learners with disabilities, impairments and historically disadvantaged in terms of access to curriculum into mainstream schools). International and South African perspectives on inclusion are closely related to wider social concerns about human rights. The new Constitution highlights respect for the rights of all, with particular emphasis on the recognition of diversity. This implies an inclusive approach to education in the sense that all learners are entitled to appropriate education. It was argued by Engelbrecht et al. (1999: viii) that this is only possible if one education system is liable for educational provision, and not two systems (i.e. mainstream and special education system). However in order for it to be effective, schools, classrooms and teachers need to be prepared to change and supported in doing so. There has never been a formal exclusion in our country. Learners with a wide variety of special education needs were and are to be found in many classrooms. The difference now is that these learners are recognised as having the right to access the curriculum and the right to a curriculum which is appropriate to their learning needs. This has implications for the nature of the school and classroom environments, the nature of the curriculum and roles of teachers, parents and communities in the education of all learners. A commitment to inclusion does not mean that all learners with special education needs will necessarily be in mainstream classrooms. There will always be a few who are better catered for in separate environments. Inclusion and education for all
The 1994 report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), stated and I quote. “The guiding principle that informs this framework is that schools should accommodate all learners regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted learners, street and working learners, learners from remote or nomadic populations, learners from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and learners from other disadvantaged or marginalised area or groups.” In other words, inclusion is not simply about reconstructing provision for learners with disabilities, but is a means of extending educational opportunities to a wide range of marginalised groups who may historically have had a little or no access to schooling. This is of great significance in our country, considering our past (apartheid era). There are many journals and books based on inclusive education, and how to run an inclusive school and classroom, so before going on and on, I will briefly outline occurrences of barriers to learning and development of learners. There are two groups: intrinsic factors – those located within the individual learner themselves. The learners are usually born with specific characteristics such as blindness or a missing appendage. The second barrier is extrinsic factors – those emanating from outside the learner – that is their environment, home, upbringing and teaching (Weeks, 2003: 19). If we look at:
The most prominent intrinsic factors are physical and/ or physiological impairments and personality characteristics which are caused by many factors. If I’m tired of my own voice by now, I don’t want to imagine how you may be feeling, so I will only outline a few general causes (Weeks, 2003:21). 1.1. Genetic or hereditary factors
We inherit out genetic composition in the form of chromosomes and we receive an equal amount from each parent. Just as one...