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The dynamics of inclusive education in further education and training in South Africa: a case study of two technical and vocational education and training colleges in Pietermaritzburg.

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This research investigated the dynamics of inclusive education in higher education institutions and how inclusive education is understood and practiced in Technical and Vocational Education and Training College (TVET) (DoE, 2013:45). Two bodies were appointed to go and investigate then make recommendations on how support services of special needs learners can be transformed in South Africa. Based on the report given, the ministry declared in Education White Paper 6 designed in 2001 that “Through this White Paper, the government showed its determination to create special needs education as a non-racial and integrated component of our education system. Let us work together to nurture our people with disabilities so that they also experience the full excitement and the joy of learning, and to provide them, and our nation, with a solid foundation for lifelong learning and development”. During literature review in chapter two a gap was identified that in higher education institution there is still a lack of inclusion of learners with special education needs. Therefore, qualitative case study research was conducted to fully understand the dynamics of this challenges. Several reasons were highlighted when qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted in chapter four. Purposive and convenience sample was selected from the population of five TVET colleges at Umgungundlovu district. This sample was selected from the two TVET colleges around Pietermaritburg. Interviews were conducted in the participants’ own natural settings using semistructured interviews which generated qualitative. In addition, focus group were held with members of the senior management team and individual interviews with lecturers and facilitators. The main reasons highlighted by the participants giving answers to the research questions were (i) unavailability of policy guiding higher education institutions on inclusive education (ii) Limited understanding of EWP 6 (iii) Inadequate teacher development (lack of support from district officials (lack of collaboration with other stakeholders and (the way how innovations were diffusion). Literature confirmed this that the implementation of inclusive is still at its infancy and still remains fragmented because there is a lack of designed national policy on disability that gives guidance to higher education on how to implement inclusive education. Currently the inclusion of learners with special education needs is discussed in many countries but in South Africa, a limited number of these learners is accommodated with many challenges. To date learners with special education needs suffer exclusionary practices from higher education institutions as they are perceived from the basis of the medical model whereby disability is the main focus rather than the social model which is the education system itself (Kochung, 2011:145; DoE, 2013 & Hornby, 2012). Two theoretical frameworks were adopted in relation to this study and are fully discussed in chapter three. The philosophy of inclusion by Danford and Rhodes (1997) was promoted to enable deconstruction of disability on learners with disabilities and allow them to access education that is not discriminating together with the learners without disabilitieswithout disabilities. The diffusion of innovation as contended by Rogers (2003) is when ideas in this case innovations (inclusive education) are diffused, communicated or disseminated through advocacy using certain channels. This advocacy happens over a period of time as all education institutions and members of the society needs to be trained and work shopped on inclusive education. Ecological systems theory as a framework by Bronfenbrenner (1979) promotes that for inclusive education to be well understood and effectively implemented by higher education institutions professional links or collaboration among different stakeholders is important. The way how these stakeholders are to collaborate in developing the child holistically is discussed in chapter two and three of this study. Using the ecological systems theory would increase participation of these learners in cultures, communities of colleges and curricular activities. This interdependence on systems theory in relation to this study involves community members where the child belongs, policymakers to influence education for all learners irrespective of their disabilities, principals as agents of change to influence implementation, parents as primary educators, learners as the main focus, teachers for implementation, administrative staff for admissions, district officials to render support and monitoring, funders and educational leader for assistances and support , all of whom are not only affected by change, but can play an active role in the process when working together as a team developing schools into inclusive organisations (Swart & Pettipher, 2007 & Donald, Lazarus & Lolwana, 2002). Before conducting the interviews, ethics were considered, and confidentiality was re-assured to all the participants. They were informed about all the processes. They voluntarily signed the consent form. Chapter four describes the process for data collection as defined above. Voluminous amounts of data were collected from the two groups. Data was reduced during analysis using coding to formulate themes highlighted in chapter five during data presentation. A true reflection on how TVET Colleges understand and practice inclusive education was given. Responses from the participants addressed the following three research questions: 1. What do TVET Colleges understand about inclusive education? 2. How is inclusive education practiced in TVET Colleges? 3. What can be done to make TVET Colleges inclusive? Chapter 7 presents recommendations based on the findings presented in chapter 6 that are highlighted above. These recommendations focused on what can be done to make TVET Colleges inclusive.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.