Teaching for All: mainstreaming inclusive education in South Africa

In South Africa, many children are marginalised due to a web of intersecting barriers to learning and participation that make them vulnerable to educational, societal and economic exclusion. Some children are denied access or drop out, while many more pass through the school system with learning difficulties and other barriers unrecognised and unsupported. So learners have a lot of challenges that could be due to the language of instruction or the language policy, it could be to socio-economic circumstances, it could be to learning differences or cognitive differences. Teachers have a pivotal role to play in transforming South Africa’s Teachers have a pivotal role to play in transforming South Africa’s education system into one that is inclusive, equitable and quality-driven, one that recognises and responds effectively to learner diversity, provides dignity and ensures better outcomes for all learners. Teaching for All: Mainstreaming Inclusive Education in South Africa is a project that aims to strengthen the capacity of pre-service and in-service teachers to play this role, thereby contributing to a more inclusive education system and quality teaching and learning for all, particularly the marginalised. Teaching for All is a material development and teacher education project that aims to mainstream inclusive education in South Africa. The project is grounded in the human rights movement and the philosophy of Ubuntu, and calls on South African and global expertise and innovation in teaching to develop a quality, responsive intervention for South African teachers. Teaching for All is a trailblazing project because it’s about shifting this what’s happening in teacher education. Whether you’re in pre-service or in-service. This course is about transforming what it means to be a good teacher, and it’s saying that excellence sits in inclusion. I’m often reminded of the African concept of Ubuntu, where I am, who I am, because of you. So in the classroom the children are who they are, because of the teacher. It has to do with nation building. It has to do with ensuring that we give expression to our commitment to social justice and human rights, to embrace all learners irrespective of their background, so that they can be a part of the learning process. And Teaching for All is the country’s response to making sure that universities, professional organisations and unions and NGOs make this a reality. The key project deliverables are: A comprehensive and collaborative research report on The State of Inclusive Education in South Africa and the implications for Teacher Development Programmes. Innovative modules and materials for Bachelor of Education and Postgraduate Certificate in Education programmes – Teaching for All: Inclusive Teaching and Learning for South Africa. Endorsed short courses and support materials for continuing professional teacher development. An insightful impact evaluation Embedding Inclusive Educationin Teacher Professional Development: Prospects and Possibilitieswhich will inform future policy and practice for Inclusive Education. The Teaching for All project aims to equip Bachelor of Education and Postgraduate Certificate of Education students with the skills and knowledge, and attitudes, and values to teach inclusively. We were given funding by the European Union to develop materials for B.Ed and PGCE programmes in inclusive teaching and learning, and also to adapt those materials for continuing professional teacher development. So what makes this a really great project for me, for one is the collaborative effort between the basic education sector and the higher eduction sector, and the actual opinions that run through to the system. The basic education sector is telling the higher education the type of teachers we need in the realistic classroom. With Teaching for All, I have access and support as far as the material that I need for teaching inclusive education is concerned. So we have put all this material on different platforms in universities so everything is there; students have access to it. So it really comes in very handy. This project is going to help teachers teach inclusively. It’s going to change their mindset. It’s going to change their attitude, and it’s going to equip them with skills to teach all learners. The success of Teaching for All relies on multi-sector partnerships from academia, government and civil society and a shared commitment to providing quality education to all learners. Teaching for All is co-funded by the European Union, with contributions from the British Council, UNISA and MIET Africa. Actually inclusive education is all about partnership. About working collaboratively. No person can do this job alone. Teaching for All has excellent partners. We have brought government, so the Department of Basic Education who’s a partner on the action, the Department of Higher Education and Training, MIET Africa who is an excellent material development NGO. And then UNISA who’s the biggest trainer of teachers in the country, and also has the only department of inclusive education in South Africa. So they bring in the academic expertise but they also bring the breadth and the scope to make change because they’re training half the teachers of the country. The European Union got involved in the Teaching for All programme as part of a wider engagement with South Africa in a number of sectors in which we have agreed to co-operate to try to improve things in South Africa. Exchange experiences with the European Union, provide funding for projects like this one. Through partnerships with universities Teaching for All is preparing the next generation of teachers with the skills, knowledge and dispositions, to teach diverse learners, in diverse classrooms, in diverse communities and respond to the challenges of South African and global communities in the 21st century. Teaching for All has really helped me to get a better understanding of what inclusivity is. The tool that gives us those opportunities to learn and to be able to identify which learners, and which strategies to use to teach such learners. It also helps us to implement what we’ve been taught in theory. To go practice it in a teaching practice. I mean, going to school and dealing with different learners of different backgrounds Like it really helps us to bring a warm classroom environment. Teaching for All is making an impact. By the end of 2020 the module will be in place at UNISA, reaching over 50% of graduating teachers, as well as at 16 other universities across the country. The module is being translated into five languages and braille. In-service training is being undertaken in six provinces. Because of the project, the Teaching for All project, we now understand what it means to walk together and the power of that. The quality of an education system depends on the quality of our teachers and to make them quality teachers it’s just not about knowing the content subject. It’s not just about knowing how to teach it but it’s having that whole inclusivity framework which integrates and infuses itself into how you teach. The aim of Teaching for All is that when a teacher enters his or her classroom, they’re ready to teach all the learners in the classroom. No lesson is ever going to be perfect but a good teacher will always make every effort they can to include the learners in the best way can. We want to equip teachers with the skills, the knowledge, and the attitudes so that they can do that. So the ultimate aim of Teaching for All is to contribute to a reduction of learners being excluded from the system. It is really important that we get this right. I don’t think we’re going to get another time in history, and in this moment that we’re releasing so many teachers into the system that we’re going to get inclusive education right. We’ve been trying since the release of the Education White Paper 6, we are now in 2019, new office administration has started. The high up, the government has actually started to realize the need of what inclusivity is important in the country. I’m really banking on the load of teachers that are going to come out after this curriculum. They’re going to teach our children with respect and dignity and our parents with respect and dignity and embrace being a teacher in the South African context. All children have the ability to learn and have the right to quality education. Every child matters and matters equally. To find out more go to www.britishcouncil.org.za/programmes/education/teaching-all

1 thought on “Teaching for All: mainstreaming inclusive education in South Africa”

  1. It's a good project since teachers have a vital rule in transforming the generation.
    Well done British Council.
    This project reminds me of the Baseline project in Tanzania in 2015. It really lifted me and all teachers involved to a next level.

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