The experiences of learners with reading difficulties in the inclusive classroom.
The last decade has seen enormous transformation in public schools in South Africa. One of the greatest changes is the increase in the diversity in the classroom. Since 2000, education policies emphasize the development of quality education in inclusive settings meeting the needs of all learners. The concept of inclusive education places emphasis on changing the system rather than the child, thereby requiring transformation of traditional approaches to teaching and learning. The factor that has the greatest impact on diversity is the movement towards including learners experiencing barriers to learning and development in the general education classroom in mainstream settings. This study is an attempt to explore and describe the experiences of grade 6 learners, particularly with reading difficulties, and the challenges faced by them in being included in the inclusive classrooms. A qualitative approach was employed in conducting this research. Purposive sampling was used to select participants. The data was obtained by means of unstructured interviews from individual learners. The recorded interviews were then transcribed and analyzed. The findings indicate that learners encountered negative and positive experiences and that it is important to listen to the often 'hidden' voices of learners experiencing barriers to learning and development. Therefore it is important for both educators and all learners to value differences in an inclusive classroom in order to accept and promote learning for the learners with barriers to learning and development.