n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die toepassing van inklusiewe onderwys : internasionale verwagtinge en Suid-Afrikaanse realiteite - research

Volume 59 Number 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751



The implementation of inclusive education: International expectations and South African realities Education for learners with learning needs that can be regarded as challenging has changed over the past 30 years from education in separate school and classroom settings, especially for learners with disabilities based on a medical-deficit model, to education based on the internationally accepted belief that every learner has the right to be included in a mainstream classroom and school. This change flowed from a socially constructed view that stumbling blocks in society play an important role in discriminating against those who are regarded as being different. International organisations such as the United Nations and its agency UNESCO have played and are still playing a leading role in this regard. The publication in 1994 of the Salamanca Statement by UNESCO (signed by 92 countries, including South Africa) is regarded as a watershed event in establishing inclusive education as the guiding principle in the development of equitable education for all; the Statement argues that all learners should be accommodated in mainstream schools regardless of, for example, their physical, intellectual or emotional needs and differences or their home language. High-income countries with wellfunded, well-established school systems were quick to follow this movement in developing policies and implementation strategies based on international guidelines. Lower-income countries were slower to follow the new approach and in many instances have simply tried to transfer strategies developed in high-resource countries to their own contexts. The focus of this article is to examine critically the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa against the background of international guidelines and efforts by UNESCO to monitor progress. Elements of education systems that are regarded as essential for the implementation of inclusive education and that were monitored for UNESCO’s 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report on Inclusion in 2018 are placed within Bronfenbrenner’s social-ecological model, in which the interaction between processes at different system levels is emphasised. These elements include laws and policies at national or macro-level, governance and finance at national and provincial levels (macro- and meso-levels), school curricula (macro- and meso-levels), facilities and infrastructure within schools and their communities (micro-levels).

Onderwys vir leerders met leerbehoeftes wat as uitdagend beskou word, het die afgelope 30 jaar beweeg van ʼn benadering van aparte onderwysgeleenthede vir sulke leerders tot die internasionaal ondersteunde benadering van inklusiewe onderwys, naamlik die plasing van alle leerders in hoofstroomskole. Hierdie benadering word sterk gelei deur internasionale organisasies, met inbegrip van die Verenigde Nasies. Deur ʼn sistematiese literatuuroorsig te gebruik, fokus hierdie artikel op internasionale verwagtinge vir die instelling van inklusiewe onderwys soos vervat in internasionale verklarings en verslae, en op die realiteite met betrekking tot die toepassing daarvan in Suid-Afrika. Spesifieke sistemiese elemente van die toepassing van inklusiewe onderwys wat gereeld deur internasionale organisasies gemonitor word, en die realiteite van Suid-Afrikaanse pogings om dit te verwesenlik, word grondig bespreek. Dit word duidelik dat indien begrip vir die komplekse Suid-Afrikaanse kultuurhistoriese agtergrond en huidige sosioëkonomiese situasie nie in ag geneem word nie, die meeste van hierdie internasionaal gestelde elemente nie na verwagting verwesenlik kan word nie. Daar word tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat unieke raamwerke vir die toepassing van inklusiewe onderwys in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks ontwikkel behoort te word wat op die internasionale oorkoepelende doelwit van die reg op onderwys gebaseer is maar wat die uniek Suid-Afrikaanse positiewe, maar ook negatiewe, realiteite in onderwys in berekening bring.

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