The educators' perceptions and experiences of inclusive education in selected Pietermaritzburg schools.
After the first democratic elections in 1994 the South African government was faced with the enormous challenge of blending a sophisticated First World education system for the minority with an underdeveloped Third World education system for the majority. The government committed itself to the principles of an inclusive education approach in order to provide equal quality education for all learners. The focus of the inclusive education will be to provide education for all learners (not only for the disabled) who for one or more reasons were discriminated against under the previous education policy. The aim of this study was to investigate the educators’ perceptions and experiences of inclusive education in schools where it is being implemented in Pietermaritzburg. The study also looked at the nature of concerns and attitudes held by these educators. Both a literature and empirical study were executed. The quantitative and qualitative approaches were used and data were collected by semi-structures questionnaires administered to thirty educators from schools where inclusive education is being implemented. Quantitative data was analysed using the descriptive statistics. A thematic analysis technique was used to analyse qualitative data. The results were presented against the central themes that emerged and include: inclusive education is challenging by its very nature; negative attitude towards inclusive education and learners with barriers to learning; negative perception towards adapting the curriculum to learners with barriers to learning; availability / lack of resources and support needed in inclusive classrooms; areas of needs in working with learners with barriers to learning; and many learners’ needs are not being met, while educators’ workload and stress have increased. A general sense of negativity was found with regard to the educators’ perceptions and attitudes towards inclusive education. They indicated that they were not well prepared for inclusive education. Recommendations were made to facilitate improving the preparedness or readiness of the educators, for inclusive education in inclusive schools in the Pietermaritzburg area.