curriculum frameworks and developments and in professional practices. .. Which knowledge, skills and values should we include in our curriculum? . curriculum itself will be inclusive and practical, and that it will meet the needs .. legitimizes a country's laws, a Curriculum Framework defines, constrains and legitimizes. The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) provides guidance for those developing programmes and working with . existing legislation, policies and plans, review of South African curricula for birth to four see in their early childhood setting is an important planning and offering activities to meet the needs and interests. Curriculum and instruction are the meat of the educational process. .. with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) recognizes its importance by mandating the provision of difficulties meeting the general education requirements (see Chapter 3).
Education shall be directed to the full development of human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Section 29 1 a of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Constitution provides that everyone has the right to education, including adult education. This right has both a positive and negative dimension as was recognised by the Constitutional Court in Ex parte Gauteng Provincial Legislature 2 in which the court stated, with relevance to the interim Constitution: Section 32 a creates a positive right that basic education be provided for every person and not merely a negative right that such a person should not be obstructed in pursuing his or her basic education.
Our policy of "building an inclusive education and training system" 3 is centrally situated within the agenda of education for all, the millennium goals, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Legislation and policies: Progress towards the right to inclusive education
Protection against discrimination based on culture, language, social groups or individual differences is an inalienable human right that must be respected and fostered by education systems. Many definitions of inclusive education have evolved throughout the world. It ranges from extending the scope of ordinary schools so that they can include a greater diversity of children 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.
The inclusion of learners with special education needs or learning barriers, into mainstream classes, is part of a universal human rights movement.
It has therefore become imperative to create equal opportunities for all learners to learn and succeed. In the South African Schools Act 10 SASA legislated that public schools must admit all learners and must attend to their educational needs without any unfair discrimination. White Paper 6 describes the Ministry of Education's commitment to providing educational opportunities for all learners so that all learners benefit from schooling.
SASA alerts us to a shift from the past - a shift that views all children has equal rights to education that fits their needs. It is estimated that more than participants, representing 92 governments and 25 international organisations, met in Salamanca in under the auspices of UNESCO and the Spanish Government to further the objectives of Education for All.
What remains questionable is whether all these countries implement and interpret inclusive education the same way. The Constitution legislated that all people are equal and thus have equal rights, including the fundamental right to basic education prohibiting unfair discrimination "against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, sexual orientation, age disability, religion, belief, language and birth".
The Constitution further provides a special challenge to all of us by requiring that we give all learners the fundamental right to basic education addressing the imbalances of the past by focusing on the key issues of access, equity and redress.
Full service schools are defined as schools that will be equipped and supported for the full range of learning needs among all our learners. In building capacity of these schools, special emphasis will be placed on inclusive education, which includes flexibility in teaching and the provision of education.
Why are standards important?
In determining the placement of a learner with special education needs, the head of department and principal must take into account the rights and wishes of the parents of such learner, taking into account what will be in the best interest of the learner. Section 12 of SASA outlines how this should happen by stating that the Member of the Executive Council must, where reasonably practicable, provide education for learners with special education needs at ordinary public schools by providing relevant educational support services for such learners and taking all reasonable measures in ensuring that physical facilities at public schools are accessible to disabled persons.
In this transformation process, South Africa has embraced inclusive education as the vehicle of change. Since a democratic dispensation was introduced in South Africa inthe country has been in the process of social, political, economic and educational transformation aimed at developing a more inclusive society. International guidelines such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the standard rules on the equalisation of opportunities for disabled persons and the World Conference on Education for All provide an overall framework of policy development.
Building an Inclusive Education and Training System. White Paper 6 outlines how the system should transform itself to accommodate the full range of learning needs and establish a caring and humane society. This is one of the first court cases which involved children with disabilities. In the court papers the parties were ad idem that children with severe or profound intellectual disabilities are able to benefit from education and training and the applicants Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability made it clear in their papers that this view has long been internationally accepted.
The policy and practice of the respondents Government of South Africa and Government of the Province of the Western Cape infringes the rights of these children in respect of their rights to education, their rights to equality, the right to human dignity and their right to protection from neglect and degradation. White Paper 6 outlines the government's intervention strategy aimed at ensuring that children who experience various barriers to learning and development have access to quality education.
It presents a vision which recognises the rights of all South African children to an equitable education, reflecting the Constitutional rights to human dignity and quality education. Inclusive education is described in White Paper 6 as one: This policy has outlined six strategies for establishing inclusive education and training system.
As Francis and Muthukrishna 22 explain an important proposal made in White Paper 6 relates to the need for changes in the general education system so that learners experiencing barriers to learning can be identified early and appropriate support provided. This is reiterated in the first point of the long-term goal: The second strategy is the conversion of special schools into resource centres.
The inclusive education policy proposes converting these schools into resource centres as part of its integrated strategy. The staff members of these schools are to be gradually integrated into District-Based Support Teams to support Institutional and Level Support Teams and neighbourhood schools.
The third strategy of this policy is the establishment of full service schools. White Paper 6 argues for the need to establish thirty "full service schools" in South Africa as part of its short term goals. So far not one of the thirty schools are fully established.
Full Service Schools 25 defines a full service school as a mainstream school which provides quality education for all learners by meeting the full range of learning needs in an equitable manner. Provincial and Educational Departments have thus far trained district officials and educators of full service and special schools in the implementation of the SIAS Strategy. The 20 year time frame, for the implementation of the key interim steps, was initially as follows: The Department of Education holds the belief that barriers to learning and development can be reduced by strengthening the education support services.
The policy proposes the establishment of District Based Support Teams which comprise staff from provincial, district, regional and national offices and from special schools.
The Education White Paper 6 also proposes the establishment of support teams at school level. The primary function of these teams is to co-ordinate learner and teacher support. The fifth strategy is the general orientation and introduction of management, governing bodies and professional staff to the inclusive education model and the targeting of early identification of disabilities for invention in the Foundation Phase.
The sixth strategy is the mobilisation of approximatelydisabled children and youth of compulsory school-going age who are outside the school system. All these strategies are still only on paper.
None of the strategies were implemented in full. The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities by the South African Government in places an obligation on the system to recognise the right providing equal opportunity to lifelong learning for all in an inclusive education system at all levels without discrimination.
Inclusive education as a new reality in South Africa brings along major philosophical shifts for the entire education system.
Why are standards important? | Parenting
The new policy adopts an ecosystem perspective which suggests a shift away from location problems within the learners and locates them in all the systems that act as barriers to learning. These include the family, the school and aspects of community functioning. The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the South African Government in places an obligation on the system to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to education and to realise the right through providing equal opportunity to life-long learning for all in an inclusive education system.
Further, inclusive education suggests a shift away from the structural arrangements that were meant to deliver a segregated system of education. Inclusive education calls for a shift from functionalism to radical structuralism. This shift entails moving away from racist, disability, sexist and classist-assumptions to non-racist, non-disability, anti-class and non-sexist assumptions. Consequently, a strategy to meet the needs of students with disabilities in the interim was articulated in White Paper 6.
This is directed at determining the nature and level of support required by learners with special education needs and also outlines the procedures to ensure that all learners with level 4 and 5 learners who require moderate and high levels of support such as learners who are disabled and receive social security grants, are admitted to schools and receive the necessary support.
Between June and October several further documents were published to assist with the implementation of the inclusive education vision.
While some aspects of the implementation of the 20 year plan are behind schedule, steps are being taken to progress this initiative. Examples would be the appointment of additional staff to resource schools and the documentation noted above.
- What are standards?
- Where do standards come from?
- Services on Demand
In building capacity of these schools, special emphasis will be placed on inclusive principles, which include flexibility in teaching and learning and the provision of education support to learners and educators. The guidelines are not restricted to schools in the General Education and Training GET brand but are also applicable to further and higher education and training institutions, guiding them on what steps they should take in recognising and addressing the diverse learning needs of their learners.
Adult basic education programmes, as well as early childhood development centres should also be part of this development process while building links with different partners at all levels for support. Furthermore, they are designed to provide a practical framework for education settings to become inclusive institutions. It is regarded a crucial factor in establishing the parameters and directives for implementation although it does not determine the exact course of implementation. Christie states that though policy makers may prefer the emphasise structural changes, they cannot sidestep human agency and its influence on policy outcomes.
One of the key strategies towards the attainment of this goal is to involve people in the support service field who can support the implementation. National standards are created by a variety of national organizations. Unlike state standards, which all public schools in a particular state are required to use, national standards are voluntary and students are not held accountable to them.
Some states use them as guidelines for creating their own state standards or simply adopt them as their state standards. By matching what is taught in the classroom to the standards in each subject area, students and their parents and teachers will know what teachers should be teaching, what students should be learning and what they will be tested on. Critics argue that having rigid standards and tests discourages schools from being innovative and inspiring creativity in their students.
Because the emphasis is on basic skills such as reading and math, subjects that are not tested, such as art and history, get less emphasis in the classroom. The pros and cons of national standards In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate in education circles about the value of having a national set of standards that all schools throughout the country would use.
Here are the arguments in a nutshell: National standards would raise the level of expectations for all. If all schools across the country had the same standards, all students would be expected to achieve at the same level, no matter what state they live in. If students in Mississippi were required to know the same things as students in New York, for example, they would be prepared to attend universities throughout the country. National standards would assure that all American students meet international levels of achievement.
We know that American students fall behind in math and science compared to their peers in other countries. With national standards, it would be clear what students need to know to compete internationally. National standards would make it easier for students to adjust to a new school when they move from one state to another.
In an increasingly mobile population, it would be easier for students who currently face differing standards and different tests in each state. Education has traditionally been a right of the states. The federal government or a federal agency should not dictate education in each state. National standards would create a one-size-fits-all framework.
The needs within each state are different. National standards would not take into account the cultural and geographical diversity of our country. National standards would discourage innovation and creativity in the classroom.
Too much similarity could lead to tightly prescribed curriculum in every classroom.