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One of the major features that will characterise classrooms of the new century is
learner diversity. This will be a notable advance from past practices and indicates
an awareness of the important role inclusive education has to play in the future.
In order to give all learners access to quality education, a dramatic shift from
exclusivity to inclusivity is required.

At the Salamanca Conference held in Spain from 7 to 10 June 1994, more than
300 representatives from 92 governments and 25 international organisations,
committed themselves to promoting Inclusive Education.

The Salamanca Conference Statement reaffirms the right to education of every
individual, as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and
renews the pledge made by the world community at the 1990 World Conference
on Education for All.

This framework stems from the messages of the Jomtien World Declaration on
Education for All (1990) and was reaffirmed in the Dakar Framework for Action
   “… In order to attract and retain children from marginalized and excluded
   groups, education systems should respond flexibly… Education systems
   must be inclusive, actively seeking out children who are not enrolled, and
   responding flexibly to the circumstances and needs of all learners…”
   (Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments. Expanded
   Commentary on the Dakar Framework for Action, Para 33)
UNESCO's action in the field of inclusive education has been set explicitly within
the 'inclusive education' framework adopted at the Salamanca Conference:
   "... Schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical,
   intellectual, emotional, social, linguistic or other conditions." (Article 3,
   Salamanca Framework for Action)
   "Regular schools with this inclusive orientation are the most effective
   means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming
   communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all;
   moreover, they provide an effective education to the majority of children
   and improve the efficiency and ultimately the cost-effectiveness of the
   entire education system." (Article 2, Salamanca Statement)

In South Africa, these contexts, the 1997 reports of the National Commission on
Special Needs in Education and Training (NCSNET) and the National Committee
on Education Support Services (NCESS), formed the conceptual framework for
the National Education White Papers on Special Needs Education, but more
specifically, the Education White Paper 6 – “Building an Inclusive Education and
Training System”.

Education White Paper 6 (EWP6), outlines the framework and strategies for an
inclusive education and training system for South Africa that should be phased in
over a period of twenty years. The principle of inclusion is in accord with
international perspectives and it acknowledges that learners who are
experiencing barriers to learning should not be excluded from the education

                                                                What is Inclusive

Many definitions of inclusive education have evolved around the world. It ranges
from ‟extending the scope of ordinary schools so that they can include a greater
diversity of children‟ (Clark et al.,1995) to a „set of principles which ensures that
the student with a disability is viewed as a valued and needed member of the
community in every respect‟ (Uditsky, 1993, p88). Some definitions focus on
human interaction, e.g. Forest and Pearpoint (1992) who see inclusion as a way
of dealing with difference, while Ballard (1995), Clark et al. (1995) and Rouse
and Florian (1996), adopt an institutional perspective and focus on organisational
arrangements and school improvement.

The following South African definitions of Inclusive Education are the
perspectives of the reference committees and consultative bodies that were
commissioned to investigate the future of Special Education.

   „Inclusive Education is defined as a learning environment that promotes
   the full personal, academic and professional development of all learners
   irrespective of race, class, gender, disability, religion, culture, sexual
   preference, learning styles and language.‟ [NCSNET/ NCESS 1998]

In Education White Paper 6 (2001) on Special Education Needs, Inclusive
Education is defined as:
    Acknowledging that all children and youth can learn and that all
     children and youth need support.
    Enabling education structures, systems and learning methodologies to
     meet the needs of all learners.
    Acknowledging and respecting differences in learners, whether due to
     age, gender, ethnicity, language, class, disability, HIV or other
     infectious diseases.
    Broader than formal schooling and acknowledging that learning also
     occurs in the home and community, and within formal and informal
     settings and structures.
    Changing attitudes, behaviour, teaching methods, curricula and
     environment to meet the needs of all learners.
    Maximising the participation of all learners in the culture and the
     curriculum of educational institutions and uncovering and minimising
     barriers to learning.

Inclusive Education therefore addresses the fundamental principles of the South
African Constitution of Human rights and Social Justice by addressing the
imbalances of the past and striving for EQUITY, REDRESS and ACCESS.
In addressing these social injustices, the move should be from segregation to
inclusion. How societies construct and respond to disabilities, gender, race, and
cultural differences are of utmost importance to the implementation of the
Education White Paper 6.

The pursuit of an inclusive society involves a demanding and difficult struggle
against past prejudices, labeling and stigmatisation. Children, whatever their
barrier to learning, have a part to play in society and need to be included within
societies from an early age. Adults, who have been educated within the special
school system, often identify early segregation as the key factor in creating
conditions that lead to prejudice and barriers encountered in later life.
Inclusion is, therefore, not just at an educational level, but is also concerned with
fostering mutually sustaining relationships between schools and communities.

In Inclusive Education we strive to adapt the environment, our attitudes, the
curriculum and teaching methods in such a way that both the external and
internal barriers to learning can be minimised.

                                 is in the
                                 heart and
                                 minds of
                                 society                       What are the
                                                               benefits of
The Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education [CSIE, 1996] has identified ten
reasons for inclusion.

                        TEN REASONS FOR INCLUSION
   Inclusive Education is a human right, it’s good education and it makes
                                good social sense.
1. All children have the right to learn together.
2. Children should not be devalued or discriminated against by being excluded
    or sent away because of their disability or learning difficulty.
3. Disabled adults, describing themselves as special school survivors, are
    demanding an end to segregation.
4. There are no legitimate reasons to separate children for their education.
    Children belong together – with advantages and benefits for everyone.
    They do not need to be protected from each other.

5. Research shows children do better academically and socially in inclusive
6. There is no teaching or care in a segregated school that cannot take place in
   an ordinary school.
7. Given commitment and support, inclusive education is a more efficient use of
   educational resources.

8. Segregation teaches children to be fearful and ignorant, and breeds
9. All children need an education that will help them develop relationships and
    prepare them for life in society.
10. Only inclusion has the potential to reduce fear and to build friendships,
    respect and understanding.

Most people would agree with the human rights position or the aim of working
towards a more tolerant society, but there are many educationalists and
communities who would still need to be convinced that learners with learning
barriers could be placed in a general classroom.

According to the National Inclusive Education Directorate and DSSA, Inclusive
Education has a range of benefits and all role-players are on the receiving end.
  ROLE –PLAYERS                                   BENEFITS
Children experiencing      They can learn new skills through imitation.
barriers to learning       They are with peers from whom they can learn new
                            social and real life skills that will equip them to live in
                            their communities.
                           They have an opportunity to develop friendships with
                            typically developing children.
                           They get access to education in their communities
                            instead of being sent away to special schools or
                            staying at home.
All other children         They are able to learn more realistic and accurate
                            views about children experiencing barriers to
                           They can develop positive attitudes towards those
                            different from them.
                           They can learn from others who successfully
                            achieve despite challenges in their way.
                           Both slow and gifted learners can benefit from the
                            inclusion of learners needing support to learn.
Families of children       They will feel less isolated from the rest of the
who experience              community.
barriers to learning       They will develop relationships with other families
                            who can provide them with support.
                           They can enjoy having their children at home during
                            their school years without the need to send them
                            away to special schools or hostels.
Families of the other      Will develop relationships with families with children
children                    with disabilities and be able to make a contribution.
                           Will be able to teach their children about individual
                            differences and the need to accept those who are
Communities                They can economise by providing one program for
                            all children rather than separate programmes.
                           People experiencing barriers to learning who have
                            developed their full potential through effective
                            education no longer are a burden to society but can
                            make a contribution.
                           Communities will learn to appreciate diversity in their

                                                              What then are the
                                                              reasons for the shift
                                                              from Special Needs
                                                              Education to
                                                              Inclusive Education?
Prior to 1994, Special Needs Education in South Africa excluded many learners
from mainstream education. Du Toit (1995) summarised the Special Needs
Education prior to 1994 as follows:
 A fragmented specialised education system based on ethnic separation and
    discrimination on the basis of race and colour
 Duplication and disproportionate allocation and utilisation of facilities,
    professionals and services
 Separate schools for children with different categories of disabilities
 Unequal access to specialised education within the different education
 A strong medical focus with clinically described admission criteria
 Extreme disparities between specialised education in urban and rural areas

It is against this backdrop of inequalities, inaccessibility, exclusion, labeling,
duplication of services and limited access to resources that a concerted effort
was made in EWP6 to move away from the imbalances of the past towards an
Inclusive Education system.

                Inequalities                             Equalities
                Inaccessibility                          Accessibility
                Exclusion              TO                Inclusion
FROM            Labeling/                                Human Rights and
                Stigmatisation                           social justice
                Duplication of                           Redistribution of
                services                                 services
                Limited access to                        Redistribution of
                resources                                resources

                                                           When is all this
                                                           going to
                                                           happen? How
                                                           long do we
                                                           have to wait?
In EWP6, the strategy and the 20-year time frame for the implementation are
clearly spelt out.

                               TIME FRAME
                                2001- 2021
SHORT TERM                 MEDIUM TERM                LONG TERM
2001- 2003                 2004- 2008                 2009- 2021
 Advocacy and              Higher Education          Expanding provision
   orientation                and Training               to 380 resource
   [Provincial- EMDCs         Institutions offering      centres and
    and schools]              INSET and PRESET           500 full service
 Audit of facilities at    Expansion of                schools and
   Special Schools            resource centres           colleges
 Pilot Project –             and full service         Expansion of the
   Establishment of           schools                    District Support
   resource centres         Establishment of            Teams
   and full service           District Support         Establishment of the
   schools in the nodal       Teams                      final Outreach
   areas                    Expansion of the            Programme to
 Establishment of            Outreach                   target the 280,000
   District Support           Programme to target       Youth At Risk
   Teams                      the Youth At Risk
 Early identification
   of learning barriers
  [Foundation Phase]
 Establishment of an
   targeting the
   disabled school

To get all role-players and stakeholders on board, well-structured and
coordinated Provincial Advocacy Campaigns for Education White Paper 6,
„Building an Inclusive Education and Training System’ need to be designed.
During the advocacy of EWP6, a strong emphasis should be placed on the
management of diversity within our societies and education system.

Our motto, Celebrate similarities and dignify diversity, stresses the important
concept of diversity. Everybody is different and we should not see it as a
problem but rather as a resource, as each individual makes a valuable
contribution to society.
                                                             How do we

Diversity covers a range of important issues that are crucial to the successful
implementation of inclusion: Issues of gender, race, culture, religion, age, class,
socio-economic environments, language, disability and HIV status.

The key to managing diversity is in dealing with change. We are working in a
world of intensifying and rapid change - conditions that are increasingly unstable
and uncertain, new technologies, large-scale restructuring and greater cultural

People react to and deal with change in different ways. It could range from total
resistance to acquiescence. When people deal with change they move along a
continuum [undergo various stages] from uncertainty through to acceptance,
adaptation and lastly, comfort.

Any change is highly emotional and causes anxiety, fear and apprehension.
People might feel threatened, be worried about losing competency, or be
overwhelmed by the whole process. Change means leaving the „comfort zones‟
and things that are familiar and moving into unknown areas.

Change could also mean the redistribution of power and authority. Some people
find this extremely intimidating as they need to hold onto that power base for as
long as possible.

Another way of viewing the elements of change is indicated in the diagram.

    C               H               A             N              G            E
The following are some of the questions that will need explicit answers to dispel
all fears and stop unnecessary stress and anxiety:

   Do people understand what I am trying to communicate?
   Do I understand the reasons for these changes?
   How are these changes going to affect me?
   To what extent will it have an impact on what I am currently doing?
   What is my attitude towards the proposed changes?
   Do I have the knowledge and skills necessary to deal with these changes?
   Are the support structures and networks in place to mediate/facilitate
    individuals who require support?
   Do I have access to support structures and networks that will assist me in the
    transition process?
   Will I have access to Change Management Courses as part of my
    professional development?
    How do I feel about these changes?
   Am I sensitive to the needs of others?

Successful change requires flexibility, energy, creativity and the commitment of
everyone involved. Training is a key factor in how smoothly any transition goes,
but many people lack the necessary skills.

To start the process of managing diversity, one should focus on the important
principles that underpin diversity, such as:
 Communication
 Interpersonal skills
 Attitudes
 Flexibility/adaptability
policy                                                             practice


ATTITUDE                                                           L
                          DIVERSITY                                SKILLS


   In managing diversity, the four major components of communication,
   interpersonal skills, attitude and flexibility need to be considered, as each of
   these components plays a vital role while still being challenged by two external
   forces: policy and practice.

   The first two essential components in managing diversity are effective
   communication and interpersonal skills.

   One has to acknowledge that there is diversity in language as well.
How well do you communicate with others?

Do you …

   Use simple, ordinary language?
   Avoid unnecessary jargon?
   Speak clearly?
   Avoid being ambiguous?
   Avoid making snide remarks?
   Avoid being patronising or condescending?
   Watch your body language?
   Repeat the main points?
   Allow time for interpretation?
   Use open-ended questions for clarification or elaboration?

Positive attitudes and flexibility or adaptability are also crucial elements of
managing diversity within societies. One has to be sensitive to the needs of
others, in a non-judgmental or non-threatening manner. In understanding others,
we need to avoid stereotyping, generalising and labeling but should rather treat
people with respect and dignity.

Most educational discussions on inclusion focus on curriculum, attitudes,
teaching methodologies, assessment practices and pastoral systems, but there is
a further dimension to inclusion. The dimension of inclusion goes beyond the
walls and boundaries of educational institutions and into the nucleus of all
societies and communities.

The most important needs of people who are perceived by society as being
„different‟ are as follows:
 The need to be accepted as a human irrespective of physical, intellectual,
     societal or sensory differences
 The need to belong to a group; to be able to make a contribution and to be
     valued as a human.

Social inclusion in education is, therefore, an important aspect for all learners,
but more especially for learners experiencing barriers to learning. This is one of
the key areas that would require a great deal of attention in the implementation of
Inclusive Education in all institutions.

As the education system is at the beginning of an inclusive paradigm, there
can be no doubt that a non-segregated, anti-discriminatory environment for
a diverse population of children and young people in schools will produce
schools which are more sensitive and more people-orientated. It will also
produce a younger generation that is more tolerant and accepting of

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