Enrolment rates in South African primary schools are high, yet the South African education system scores low in educational achievement.
Children who experience barriers to learning of whatever nature or form (family disruption, language issues, poverty, learning difficulties, disability, etc.) are especially at risk of being left behind. In many ways, South Africa is still a tale of two school subsystems: one is wealthy, functional, and able to educate students, while the other is poor, dysfunctional, and unable to equip students with the necessary numeracy and literacy skills they should be acquiring in primary school.
South Africa has adopted inclusive education guidelines and a policy of ‘Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support’ in order to address barriers to learning in the education system. The success of these measures is largely dependent on the capacity of teachers to put them into practice and provide quality differentiated education. Unfortunately, existing professional development of teachers does not adequately prepare primary teachers for the task.
This project aims to improve the knowledge and skills of Foundation and Intermediate Phase teachers to identify and address barriers to learning experienced by children.
To make inclusive education a reality, VVOB and its partners have designed a comprehensive approach to teacher professional development, focusing on three phases of the teacher’s career:
- Improving the preparation of student teachers by ensuring that initial teacher education programmes at NWU, UFS, Wits, the Central University of Technology, and the University of Fort Hare address inclusive education in different subjects and during student teachers’ teaching practice.
- Ensuring that newly qualified teachers in the Free State, Northern Cape, and North West Provinces are off to a good start by providing them with an induction programme on inclusive education.
- Providing in-service teachers with quality opportunities for continuous professional development, most notably through well-functioning professional learning communities that treat inclusive education as a core topic.
The development and implementation of the comprehensive approach will be documented and analysed by the universities involved. Lessons learned are shared through a series of national symposia on inclusive education. Moreover, VVOB and IESA will develop and share open educational resources that can be used in inclusive education modules, as well as in the pedagogical and subject-matter modules of initial teacher education and in the professional learning communities.
To reach its goals, VVOB South Africa develops the capacity of its education partners. VVOB uses capacity development trajectories that give partners maximal responsibility in the execution and management of their own change processes. This is done through technical assistance provided by the VVOB South Africa team, which includes both local and international educational and change management experts.