Inclusive Education

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Good morning fellow educators.
Because of the changes our education system is undergoing, many teachers have been left unsettled and somewhat confused by what is happening and how it affects our working situation and futures as educators. The biggest change, and the one that I am tasked with telling you about today, is inclusive education. What is inclusive education?

The explanation I found on the Department of Basic Education’s website summed up the movement very well. “An inclusive system will facilitate the inclusion of vulnerable learners and reduce the barriers to learning, through targeted support structures and mechanisms that will improve the retention of learners in the education system, particularly learners who are prone to dropping out.” (Department: Basic Education. Republic of South Africa. 2012) Inclusive education, put simply, welcomes all learners – Learners who are exceptionally smart, who battle with maths and reading, who find it difficult to see clearly, whose mobility is governed by a wheelchair and who from time-to-time have seizures. Gone are the days of mainstream schools and special needs schools. The new movement of Inclusive Education will bring learners together, regardless of their barriers to learning. It is no longer about the differences between all learners, but their similarities. Why South Africa accepted the policy of inclusive education? According to the Educational White Paper,

* It is a human right
* It makes good educational sense
* It makes good social sense
* It promotes the right to learn and live together
* It promotes acceptance of diversity
* It builds respect for one another
* It supports a uniform and responsive education and training system * It supports the removal of all elementary discrimination * It supports positive interaction and learning from one another. * It helps to build a rehabilitative and supportive society. What can you expect as a teacher?

Not only will you have ‘normal’, able-bodied learners in your classrooms, but a teacher can expect children with visual, auditory, intellectual and physical barriers to learning, to name but a few. Teachers will be expected to broaden their knowledge regarding barriers to learning – which will be done with the support and development programmes of the Department of Education. Some challenges of acceptance and attitudes may arise – from teachers, parents and learners alike – but it is time for all of us to embrace diversity, stop discrimination and to accept people who are different. What are the basic barriers to learning?

Barriers to learning are broken up into intrinsic and extrinsic barriers to learning and development – in simpler terms, the barriers are located within the learner and the barriers stem from outside the learner. * Intrinsic barriers to learning

These barriers affect the learner from birth. The most common barriers are physical impairments, physiological impairments and personality characteristics.

When discussing disabilities, and impairments, they tend to go hand in hand. Impairments are permanent physical or mental deficits which the learner has adapted to live with. If the learner is held back by his/her impairment because of society and social environmental factors, it becomes a disability.

Genetic factors inherited from our parents can come in the form of club feet, poor eyesight and many other genetic factors that can occur during early development. Here we have examples of Down’s syndrome or Turner’s syndrome.

Physical impairments are, in some cases, linked to prenatal, perinatal and postnatal brain damage. This can result in epilepsy, cerebral palsey, dyslexia and many other impairments.

Some personality problems/traits may have a negative impact on the learner. Examples being: poor self-image, extreme shyness and rebellious behaviour.

* Extrinsic Barriers to learning
These are external factors that affect the...
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