Educating learners with communication disorders: an exploration of the experiences of mainstream educators in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Ngcobo, Nomfundo Peaceful.
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Aim: To explore mainstream educators’ experiences of educating learners with communication disorders in rural KwaZulu-Natal. An exploration of mainstream educator’s experiences provided insight into the current status of service delivery for learners with communication disorders in rural mainstream schools of the iLembe South Circuit District. Background: The researcher’s personal experience has revealed that learners with communication disorders are promoted based on age. Such learners are not literate when they exit the secondary education system. Inclusive policies have been developed to facilitate the process of transformation but the implementation of such policies remains a challenge. Design: A qualitative, phenomenological approach was adopted. Method: Eleven Black African mainstream educators were interviewed individually using a semi-structured interview schedule. Results and Discussion: A thematic analysis yielded three superordinate and nine subordinate themes. Positive educator experiences were related to individualizing educational practices, accessing support teams and collaborating with private and public health professionals. Negative educator experiences were related to large classes, poor quality of educator training, implementation of the National Education Policy on Promotion, non-existent and dysfunctional support teams and poor collaboration amongst professionals. A few of the educators experienced a shift in their thinking and embraced inclusive practices. It is argued that paradigm shifts are facilitated in the context of increased support and hindered when the system is flawed by many challenges. The proper implementation of South African Educational policies is emphasized, as well as collaborative teamwork for the learner with a communication disorder. The limitations of the study are highlighted.